Until recently, young children and teens almost never got type 2 diabetes. Now, about one-third of American youth are overweight, a problem closely related to an increase in kids with type 2 diabetes, some as young as 10 years old. Parents can do a lot to help their kids prevent type 2 diabetes. Set a new normal as a family—healthy changes become habits more easily when everyone does them together.
Here are some tips to get started:
- Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Make favorite foods healthier.
- Get kids involved in making healthier meals.
- Eat slowly—it takes at least 20 minutes to start feeling full.
- Eat at the dinner table only, not in front of the TV or computer.
- Shop for food together.
- Shop on a full stomach so you’re not tempted to buy unhealthy food.
- Teach your kids to read food labels to understand which foods are healthiest.
- Have meals together as a family as often as you can.
- Don’t insist kids clean their plates.
- Don’t put serving dishes on the table.
- Serve small portions; let kids ask for seconds.
- Reward kids with praise instead of food.
- Encourage your kids to reach for fruit, the original fast food.
- Aim for your child to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, in several 10- or 15-minute sessions or all at once.
- Start slow and build up.
- Keep it positive—focus on progress.
- Take parent and kid fitness classes together.
- Make physical activity more fun—try new things.
- Ask kids what activities they like best—everyone is different.
- Encourage kids to join a sports team.
- Have a “fit kit” available—a jump rope, hand weights, resistance bands.
- Limit screen time to two hours a day.
- Plan active outings, like hiking or biking.
- Take walks together.
- Move more in and out of the house—vacuuming, raking leaves, gardening.
- Turn chores into games, like racing to see how fast you can clean the house.
Want to Limit Overeating? Limit TV Time
A recent study showed that when the amount of TV kids watched was limited, they lost weight—but not because they were more active when they weren’t watching. The difference was snacking: kids ate more when they were watching TV compared to doing other things—even things that were not physically active.
Young kids and teens are still growing, so if they’re overweight, the goal is to slow down weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Don’t put them on a weight loss diet without talking to their doctor.
Thanks to the Centers for Disease Control for these great tips to help prevent children and teens from developing type 2 diabetes. Learn more, including when to talk to your child’s primary care provider about getting your child’s blood sugar tested.