Lifestyle Changes Can Help Kids Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes was once diagnosed much more often in overweight adults. But it now affects kids who have poor eating habits and get little exercise.

Why is it so important to watch kids' weight? Eight out of 10 overweight kids become overweight adults. But those kids may not get diabetes. Parents can do a lot to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in their kids, even if the parents already have it. Follow 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 so is outdoor play such as running around, jumping rope, and bike riding.

  • Control food portions. Don't let kids overeat. Switch to smaller plates to encourage smaller portions.

  • Delay seconds at mealtime. Wait 15 to 20 minutes before you offer seconds.

  • Don't buy junk food. Offer low-calorie snacks such as carrots, celery, Italian ices, low-fat cheese, or fresh fruit.

  • Limit or get rid of soda and other sweetened drinks. These have a lot of calories with little nutritional value. Serve low-fat dairy products.

  • Cut back on screen time. Limit the time your child spends on their phone or computer, playing video games, and watching TV. Two hours a day or less is all that's recommended.

  • Set a good example. It's important for you to eat a healthy diet and exercise too.

If you have questions about your child's nutritional needs, talk with your child's healthcare provider. Using the above recommendations will reduce your child's risks of developing diabetes as well as several other conditions linked to weight gain, including asthma and heart disease.

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