There are two types of diabetes and both are on the rise in African-American children: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent mellitus (IDDM), is a disorder caused by the body's inability to produce insulin. Insulin, a hormone produced and secreted by the pancreas, is essential for the cells of the body to metabolize glucose to use for energy.
Children with childhood disbetes must take insulin shots every day and check their blood sugar levels several times a day. The American Diabetes Association states that about 10 percent of children have type 1 diabetes. It is nearly twice as prevalent in African-American children age 20 and under than in White children.
Because obesity is on the rise in the U.S., there are an increasing number of African-American children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (also known as adult-onset diabetes).
According to Susan Marullo, diabetes coordinator at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD., "There is no cure for diabetes, but with proper treatment, patients can live a long life." Ms. Marullo states that both types of diabetes can be prevented if you:
1. KNOW YOUR FAMILY HISTORY: If there is a history of diabetes, inform your family physician.
2. SCREEN: Have your physician screen for diabetes if there is a rick.
3. CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE: Too many children today are entertained by PlayStation, Xbox, and the television in general. Children should be encouraged to watch as little television as possible, preferably no more than two hours per day. Instead, they should be engaged in some type of physical activity.
4. EXERCISE: Children should be involved in team sports (basketball, baseball, soccer or karate). They can also engage in physical activity with their family. Try family walks, bike riding or walking around a museum together.
5. CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT: Because children are still growing, maintaining the same weight for one to two years can allow children to grow into their excess weight. Catching a weight problem early will allow modifications before it's too late.
6. LIMIT SOFT DRINKS: Drinking too many soft drinks can increase the chance a child will become obese. Extra calories in sweet drinks, fruit juices, soda and Kool-Aid can cause obesity. Choose water instead of soda.
7. REMEMBER LESS FOOD CAN SOMETIMES BE MORE: The quanities and variety of foods in the home, as well as eating habits, establish an enviroment in which obesity may or may not occur. Serve smaller portions. Encourage your child to listen to his body and stop eating when he is full.
8. DON'T USE FOOD AS AN EMOTIONAL CRUTCH: Don't use food as "comfort" to make a child feel better. Talk through emotional situations, rather than allowing kids to eat through them.
9. ACT AS A ROLE MODEL: It's difficult for children to stick to a diet or exercise plan if their parents are sitting on the couch with a bowl of chips and a sofa. Make healthy eating a family affair.
10. CHANGE YOUR DIET: Decrease the amount of high-calorie "junk food," such as potato chips, cookies, candy or cake, your family consumes. Add more fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples, grapes and peaches to their diet. Keep children away from fast and fatty foods.
(c) copyrighted 2004.
* This article appeared in the Fall Issue of Family Digest Magazine: www.familydigest.com
Sammie Ward is a fiction and nonfiction writers. She has published over thirty short stories, numerous health realted articles, a novella, and four novels.
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