Diabetes is really becoming a public health issue. More and more people– children and adults– are developing type 2 diabetes. Over the last two decades, there has been over a 1000% increase in type 2 diabetes in children. Yes, you read that right– 1000%! The problem of childhood obesity contributes to this issue, and many children have what Dr. Mark Hyman calls “diabesity”– obesity coupled with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Studies have shown that medication and instruction for lifestyle changes are not working in treating type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes in children. Consequently, many children with type 2 diabetes are ending up having to give themselves insulin shots at a very young age.
The problem is that our country is addicted to convenience foods, sugar, fast food, soda, and processed snacks! The food industry wants us to believe that a snack of fresh fruit or vegetables and a snack of cookies are the same as long as they are both 100 calories. Our bodies process both of these differently, and sugar calories act differently. Children are still targeted in ads and commercials for junk food and sugary cereal. Unfortunately, processed and convenience foods are cheaper than fresh produce. Our country has many changes that need to be made in order to prevent an increase in obesity and diabetes, and these changes cannot be just encouraging people to be active. Exercise is vital to your health, however you would need to run four miles a day for one week in order to burn off the average fast food meal.
As parents, we need to model healthy eating habits for our children to set them up for a lifetime of success. Children who are healthier miss less school, pay better attention in class, and have more energy for sports and activities. If you are a parent, seek out ways to make healthy choices as a family, and make wholesome eating fun. We hope to provide you with some ideas on kid-friendly, healthy options over the next month, just in time for back-to-school.