Lifestyle Changes Can Help Kids Avoid Type 2 Diabetes

Lifestyle Changes Can Help Kids Avoid Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, once diagnosed much more frequently in overweight adults, now affects kids who have poor eating habits and get little exercise.

Why is it so important to watch kids' weight? Eighty percent of overweight kids become overweight adults, but those kids may not get diabetes. Parents can do a lot to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in their kids — even if the parents already have it. The American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer these tips:

  • Ban habits that lead to overeating. Make kids use a plate and eat at the table.

  • Make sure kids exercise. They need an hour a day, all or most days. Sports teams are 1 option, but outdoor play like running around and bike riding are other options.

  • Control portions. Don't let kids overeat. Switch to smaller plates to encourage smaller portions.

  • Delay seconds at mealtime. Wait 15 minutes to 20 minutes before you offer seconds.

  • Don't buy junk food. Offer low-calorie snacks like carrots, celery, Italian ices, low-fat cheese, or fresh fruit.

  • Limit or get rid of soda and other sweetened beverages. These have a lot of calories with little nutritional value.

  • Cut back television time and other inactive "screen time" like video games and computers. Two hours a day or less is all that's recommended.

  • Set a good example. Eat in a healthier way — and exercise too.

If you have questions about your child's nutritional needs, be certain to check with your pediatrician. 

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