We all have anecdotal evidence that our bouncing baby boys and girls are turning quickly into little fat children. While some may take offense at the word fat it is in the face of an epidemic that will cost many children their lives. High blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, diabetes and kidney disease are obesitys partners. The days of Type 1 diabetes, while not gone, have been overtaken by Type 2 diabetes that used to be called adult on-set diabetes. The adults are now barely teenagers.
According to a study released Monday in the online journal Pediatrics, Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors Among U.S. Adolescents, 19992008 the number of adolescents ages 12 to 19 who are on the track to develop Type 2 diabetes or already have it has tripled since 1999 to almost one in four from fewer than one in 10.
Diabetes is a difficult enough disease to treat in adults, but recent studies show that in adolescents the progress of the disease is much faster than in adults. Why the increase? If we look around, our children are eating much more than in the past, and are more sedentary. Instead of playing outside, many are too busy playing video games inside where the only physical activity is working the thumbs and the eyeballs.
While the study has a few caveats, it is the best information available involving more than 3,000 participants over a decade. Diabetes (sometimes called sugar in many communities) is nothing to play with. Its estimated that many adults are walking around with the disease and dont know it. The same is true of adolescents. The disease, however, can be held at bay with just a little effort to control diet and with moderate exercise. First order of business for parents is to have their children tested during their next visit to the doctor, and while there, they should be tested, too.
-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board