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Parents play role in preventing Type 2 diabetes in kids

March 01, 2018


Dr. Kanika Shanker

Dr. Kanika Shanker

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A diabetes diagnosis is anything but simple, especially when it comes to children and adolescents.

Dr. Kanika Shanker of WellSpan Endocrinology, who specializes in pediatric endocrinology, said the growth and hormonal changes experienced during childhood and adolescence can make the management of endocrine disorders in young people especially challenging.

"Diagnosing and treating a young person with diabetes or other disease of the endocrine system is complex because we have to use age- and puberty-specific criterion for labs and X-rays," said Dr. Shanker.

Pediatric endocrinology focuses on the management and treatment of common endocrine diseases as they affect people 18 years of age and younger. It addresses health risks such as diabetes, hormone problems and Vitamin D deficiency.

Dr. Shanker noted the recent increase of Type 2 diabetes in children is especially troubling.

"Type 2 diabetes is increasing in children due to increasing prevalence of obesity and other metabolic complications related to obesity," she explained.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease with bimodal peak. Type 2 diabetes occurs as people age, often as the result of lifestyle - the kinds of food eaten, weight and amount of physical activity.

"At one time, Type 2 diabetes was a disease only seen in people as they approached middle age and beyond. Now, we are seeing more and more children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Shanker.

Parents can help their children avoid traveling down this path, though.

"Parents play an instrumental role in the growth of their children," explained Dr. Shanker. "Healthy parenting should strive for cost-effective grocery shopping and access to regular physical activity throughout the year."

Healthy snacks for kids

Parents can keep kids healthy and help prevent Type 2 diabetes by providing them nutritious snacks and meals. Here are 10 dippable snacks kids can have fun filling up with, straight from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.EatRight.org.

  1. Colorful baby carrots or cherry tomatoes (or another favorite veggie) dipped in low-fat dressing
  2. Strawberries or apple slices paired with low-fat yogurt
  3. Pretzels dipped in mustard
  4. Pita chips with hummus
  5. Graham crackers and applesauce
  6. Pair baked tortilla chips in bean dip
  7. Animal crackers in low-fat pudding
  8. Bread sticks dipped in salsa
  9. A granola bar with low-fat yogurt
  10. Mini waffles dipped in cinnamon applesauce