Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
All children need a balanced diet and an active lifestyle to stay healthy, but it’s even more important for children with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2.
People with type 1 diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes) do not produce insulin on their own. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the body by the pancreas. Insulin is needed to break down glucose, the main type of sugar in the blood. Glucose comes from food that we eat and is the body’s main source of energy. People with type 1 diabetes can’t use glucose properly, so it is flushed out of the body in the urine. A person with type 1 diabetes will lose weight if he or she goes untreated. People with type 1 diabetes may also be overweight before they develop the disease and may remain so if they don’t improve their eating and exercise habits. An excessive amount of body fat can make it hard for a child’s body to use insulin properly. Overweight children may have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels.
Being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, also known as insulin resistance. A person with type 2 diabetes is able to produce insulin, but their body does not utilize it properly, which makes the amount of glucose in the blood rise, and the pancreas produce more insulin. The pancreas will eventually stop producing insulin and the body will not be able to produce enough to keep glucose levels in a normal range. People with insulin resistance are often overweight and do not exercise enough. Losing weight, exercising, and eating healthier foods can reverse insulin resistance, which can make it easier for a person with type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of diabetes can go unnoticed because they seem harmless. Some symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight gain or loss, increased fatigue, having sore that heal slowly or dry, itchy skin, losing the feeling in feet, irritability, and blurry vision.
When children with diabetes reach and stay at a healthy weight, they feel better and have more energy, their symptoms may lessen, their blood sugar may be easier to control and they are less likely to develop complications, such as heart disease. Eating healthy, however, is important for everyone and being a good role model for your child is important, as well. If you are overweight, talk with your doctor about a weight management program so that you can set a good example for your child.