Diabetes Threatens Our Children’s Health
Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern in the United States as more cases of the disease are being seen in children. Usually, type 2 diabetes affects people who are obese and over age 40. Over the past 20 years, however, doctors have seen an increase in type 2 diabetes among children.
If untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart attack, and stroke. It can also lead to kidney failure and eventual blindness. The effects of this disease can be so devastating, it is important to know your risks and take action right away to reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes, also known as insulin-resistant diabetes, is the most common form of the disease. It accounts for 90% of all diabetes cases diagnosed each year. With type 1 diabetes the body does not produce insulin. With type 2 it does produce insulin but either it does not produce enough or the cells in the muscle are less sensitive to its effects.
When you eat something, the body breaks the food down into a simple sugar called glucose. Glucose then moves through the bloodstream and then into the muscle and fat cells. Insulin sends a signal to the cells which tell them to open up and accept the glucose. Glucose is either used right away or stored as fat. In individuals who have type 2 diabetes, the cells do not correctly receive the signal to allow the glucose in. This causes glucose to build up in the bloodstream and keeps the cells from functioning properly. Eventually, the elevated glucose levels in the system can cause damage to heart eyes and kidneys.
Your risk for type 2 diabetes can be inherited. If you have a parent or sibling who has the disease you have a great chance for developing it yourself. Individuals of Hispanic, African-American, or Native American ancestry are also at greater risk as well as those over age 45. Other risk factors include having a sedentary lifestyle, excessive stress, smoking, and obesity.
One of the most important things we can do to cut our chances of developing type 2 diabetes is to get more active and lose weight. Fat stored around the abdominal area make it especially hard for cells to respond to insulin. Other risk factors include a Body Mass Index of 25 or more or a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for a woman or 40 inches or more for man.
Knowing what the risk factors are for developing type 2 diabetes is an important step to avoiding the disease. If you have a close family member who has developed type 2 diabetes, discuss it with your doctor. Find out what your BMI is and to measure your waist. If you have any other risk factors, take action today to eat better, exercise, and lose weight. By taking action today you can avoid the damaging health effects of type 2 diabetes tomorrow.