Study raises alarm bells over diabetes

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

We all know it's not healthy to sit around and not get exercise.

Back in the day, the culprit was watching television.

Today, it's playing video games or chatting electronically with our friends.

There's more at stake than just the poor self-esteem that comes from being overweight, although that's bad enough. Now comes a study that shows that type 2 diabetes, the kind usually associated with obesity, jumped more than 30 percent from 2000 t0 2009. Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, hit 1.93 cases per 1,000 children, an increase of 21 percent over the same period.

In a study presented Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Society's' meeting in Vancouver, Canada, Researchers reported that, nationwide, nearly 167,000 children and teens younger than 20 have type 1 diabetes, while more than 20,000 have type 2.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical association, the research included 3 million children and adolescents in different regions of the united States.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas makes little or no insulin, a hormone that the body needs to let sugar enter cells and produce energy.

Type 2, once called "adult-onset" diabetes, causes the body to become resistant to the effects of insulin or to not make enough insulin.

While doctors have made major progress in treating type 1 diabetes and preventing complications, children who face type 2 diabetes face serious risks in addition to probably being obese. The combination makes them prone to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness and amputations.

What can be done?

For one, limit "screen time" and make sure kids have plenty of opportunity for physical activity.

For another, limit sugar.

The American Heart Association notes that adult women should get five teaspoons (20 grams) of sugar per day; adult men nine teaspoons (36 grams), and children 3 teaspoons (12 grams).

How much is that?

Well, consider that a can of regular soda has 40 grams of sugar, or about 10 teaspoons of sugar.

In other words, the recommended sugar intake is less than one soda per day, from all sources.

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