Lifestyle Changes Can Help Kids Avoid Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, once diagnosed much more often in overweight adults, now affects kids who have poor eating habits and get little exercise.  Why is it so important to watch kids’ weight? Eighty percent of overweight kids become overweight adults, increasing their risk of developing diabetes.  Parents can do a lot to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in their kids by following these tips.

  • Ban habits that lead to overeating. Make kids use a plate and eat at the table.
  • Make sure kids exercise. They need an hour a day, all or most days. Sports teams are one option, but outdoor play like running around and bike riding are other options.
  • Control portions. Don’t let kids overeat. Switch to smaller plates to encourage smaller portions.
  • Delay providing additional portions at mealtime. Wait 15 to 20 minutes before you offer seconds.
  • Don’t buy junk food. Offer low-calorie snacks like carrots, celery, Italian ices, low-fat cheese, or fresh fruit.
  • Limit or get rid of soda and other sweetened beverages. These have a lot of calories with little nutritional value.
  • Cut back television time and other inactive “screen time” like video games and computers. Two hours a day or less is all that’s recommended.

The last tip is for parents, it’s important for you to set a good example and avoid diabetes as well. Be sure to eat in a healthier way and get daily exercise too, and take a Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test, available online at  An estimated 84 million Americans have prediabetes, and 90 percent of them don’t know they have it. Prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes and its many serious complications. It’s crucial for people to know their risk because prediabetes can be reversed with healthy food choices, weight loss, and exercise.  Held the last Tuesday of March each year (March 27 this year) American Diabetes Alert Day encourages everyone to take the risk test.

If you have questions about your child’s nutritional needs, be certain to check with their healthcare provider.

Dragana Jokic, M.D., is part of the Joslin Diabetes Center, Affiliate at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. She is board certified in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Internal Medicine. Raritan Bay provides the latest advances in diabetes treatment, patient education, and support services, and is recognized with the American Diabetes Association Education Recognition Certificate. Dr. Jokic is fluent in English and Serbo-Croatian. Offices are located in Suite 420, 2 Hospital Plaza, Old Bridge, NJ. For an appointment, call 732-360-4070.

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