Causes of Diabetes in Children

The Center for Disease Control asserts that nearly 151,000 Americans under the age of 20 suffer from diabetes.

While early-onset diabetes is typically Type 1, the last twenty years have shown a drastic increase in Type 2 diabetes among children and teens. Traditionally only found in adults over the age of 40, Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin and the pancreas is unable to properly regulate blood sugar. Read on to discover the 5 big causes of diabetes in children and reverse this alarming and growing epidemic in our youth.

Cause 1: Overweight Kids and Teens

Children who are overweight carry a much higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes. Extra weight puts extra pressure on the body’s capacity to control levels of blood sugar. Nearly 90% of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

Cause 2: Improper Nutrition

A poor diet that consists of too much fast food, sodas, chips, cookies and other sweets and fattening foods is one the leading causes of diabetes in children. The easy availability of fast food, vending machines loaded with candy bars and increasing price of fresh produce may make it difficult to ensure that children get all the nutrients they need. However, making simple and smart choices like offering water instead of sugary juice or fruit as a snack can make a difference in your child’s nutritional levels and build healthy habits for life.

Children with Diabetes

Cause 3: Lack of Exercise

Lack of physical activity is one of the main causes of diabetes in children and of adolescent obesity. Children need to stay active to avoid gaining weight and developing diabetes. Inactive children often have higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels than those that exercise regularly. Physical activity can be anything from taking the dog for a walk in the park, playing a round of tag with friends or swimming in the neighborhood pool. These are fun ways to make sure your child gets at least one hour of physical activity each day.

Cause 4: Genetics

Diabetes may be a hereditary disease and having two parents that suffer from the disease may drastically increase a child’s chances of developing either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. If you or your partner have diabetes, take special care to ensure your child is developing healthy habits from a young age.

Cause 5: Race and Sex

Children of Asian-American, African-American, Hispanic and Native American heritage are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, but the reasons why are not known. Additionally, girls suffer from Type 2 diabetes more often than boys during their young years.

More and more children are diagnosed with diabetes each year, but Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. Now that you know the 5 big causes of diabetes in children, what steps can be taken to limit the growth of this problem? Are mandatory physical education classes the answer? Healthier school lunches? The removal of vending machines from schools? Let us know your ideas for preventing childhood diabetes.