1 Weigh the odds. The American Diabetes Association says 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity coupled with a 5 to 10 percent reduction in body weight produces a 58 percent reduction in Type 2 diabetes.
2 Cut the fat.For Type 2 diabetes, watch the types of foods — especially fats — in your diet. Choose whole grains, fruits and vegetables, says Dr. Teresa Zimmerman, a pediatric endocrinologist at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
3 Know your history.Be especially wary if Type 2 diabetes runs in your family or if you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, since that increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, Zimmerman advises.
Managing diabetes is a daily battle. Even with medical advances, staying healthy requires perseverance and discipline. This is especially true for children wrestling with Type 1 diabetes.
“For a child, it requires the adults in their life — and it’s not just their parents, but their teachers and coaches — to be engaged in helping the child follow through,” says Dr. Teresa Zimmerman, a pediatric endocrinologist at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
The regimen, which includes testing blood sugar levels and keeping it regulated with the proper diet, is complex — more than a kid can handle alone. “They have to have adults around them that are capable of grasping information and are motivated to implement it,” says Zimmerman.
Even then, the news surrounding childhood diabetes is changing. It used to be that children only got Type 1 diabetes (once known as juvenile diabetes) in which the body fails to make insulin.
But with the rise of obesity among children, Type 2 diabetes, which was almost exclusively an adult disease caused by the body’s inability to use insulin properly, is also climbing.
About 23.6 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. In adults, it’s estimated that an additional 57 million people have a condition called “prediabetes” that can cause damage to the heart and circulatory system.
Treatment for Type 1 diabetes — from testing strips to sophisticated insulin pumps that now include food dictionaries, providing diabetics easy access to information about ingredients — has become more advanced.
But preventing it is another issue. Research into Type 1 is taking two routes. The first is exploring what causes the body’s autoimmune response to destroy insulin-producing cells and how to prevent it from being triggered. The other focuses on replacing inactive insulin-producing cells.
For Type 2, research has focused on genetics, diet and medication. New studies show that it might even be fat that hurts those with diabetes.
“It isn’t necessarily the sugars,” Zimmerman says. “Studies are suggesting that having a high saturated fat diet alters glucose metabolism.”