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Type 2 Diabetes and Kids

Type 2 Diabetes and Kids

As a parent, you want to keep your kids as healthy as possible. And that might mean helping them avoid type 2 diabetes.

Have questions about this disease? We've got answers you can count on.

What is type 2 diabetes? With this form of diabetes, the body has trouble using insulin, a hormone that helps glucose (blood sugar) enter the body's cells. When glucose can't move into cells, it builds up in the bloodstream instead. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the body and also cause serious problems, such as kidney disease and vision loss.

How does it differ from type 1 diabetes? In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn't make insulin, or it makes very little of it. Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, can develop at any age but is usually diagnosed in children. It's far less common than type 2 diabetes.

What factors put kids at risk for type 2 diabetes? Risk factors for kids include being overweight, not getting enough exercise, having a family member with type 2 diabetes and being born to a mom who had gestational diabetes while pregnant.

How is type 2 diabetes detected and treated in children? A simple blood test can tell if a child has the disease. Managing the disease includes monitoring blood sugar levels regularly, exercising, eating a healthy diet and taking medication.

How can I help prevent my child from getting type 2 diabetes? There are many things you can do to help prevent the disease. For instance, encourage your child to drink more water and fewer sugary drinks and to eat more fruits and veggies. Serve them more whole grains—such as whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta—and lower-fat dairy products, such as low-fat or nonfat yogurt and milk. Also encourage your child to be more active. Spend time as a family taking walks or playing games that get everyone moving. Being active together gives you time to connect as a family.

If your child is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, remember that you're not alone—many families are living with it. Together, as a family, you can help your child stay healthy and well.

Did You Know?

A diabetes diagnosis can be difficult to deal with, but you don't have to go it alone. Our Health Library is full of resources to help you!

An Intro to Type 2 Diabetes

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention