Parkland supplier warns of increased risk of diabetes in children

During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals may have experienced stress, anxiety, grief, and worry, which can lead to lack of sleep and poor diet. Concerns about mental health and physical wellbeing have increased due to fear of the virus, job loss, new rules and mandates, and transitions to virtual work and school. Today, the aftermath of the pandemic provides evidence that there may be a link in children between diabetes and COVID-19.

According to the American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes in children increased significantly with more pediatric patients hospitalized from March to December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Stay-at-home orders led to weight gain due to limited physical activity, increased screen time and consumption of processed foods.

“It was very concerning to see children developing type 2 diabetes. This is a disease that is normally seen in adults,” said Suzette Baez, MD, pediatrician at Parkland Health. “In six months, I was seeing children gain between 30 and 60 pounds. During the stay-at-home order, parents were working and children were eating unhealthy meals while learning at home. children depend on schools for nutritious meals.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on people with diabetes. Individuals were at increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19 or even worsening of diabetes symptoms if infected. New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also highlights that children who recover from COVID-19 are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes after infection than those without COVID-19. There was also a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racial/ethnic minority groups for people under the age of 18 who were also at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Tuesday, March 22 is designated as National Diabetes Alert Day, an annual event created by the American Diabetes Association to help alert the public to the life-threatening disease. Rising cases in adults and now children are the reason Parkland Health providers continue to educate the community about the disease that is on the rise in Dallas County and across the country.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and is associated with serious health complications like heart and kidney disease, blindness and amputations. From 2001 to 2017, the number of people under age 20 living with type 1 diabetes increased by 45% and the number of people living with type 2 diabetes increased by 95%, according to the CDC.

“Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at such a young age only means that health complications can show up even earlier,” Dr. Baez said. “It has a big impact on the child that will affect their social environment.”

According to Kellie Rodriguez, RN, MSN, MBA, CDCES, Global Director of Diabetes and Infectious Diseases at Parkland, “There is an increasing frequency of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children and it is a health concern public life Racial and ethnic disparities and the impact of COVID-19 have only increased this risk One in three children born after 2000 and two in three children from ethnic minorities (particularly Hispanic and African American ) are at risk for type 2 diabetes.”

So what can you do to prevent or delay diabetes? According to Rodriguez, individuals should:

  • Maintain a healthy weight – if necessary, try to lose 5-7% of your body weight
  • Eat well – learn to make healthier choices
  • Be active – do some type of moderate physical activity daily

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Limiting screen time is also an important consideration for children, Rodriguez added.

“Even though there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, these lifestyle changes can delay the onset of the disease and help people live longer, healthier lives,” Rodriguez said.

The Parkland Diabetes website is a valuable free resource for anyone interested in learning more about living with diabetes, as well as prevention. Available in English and Spanish at www.parklanddiabetes.com, the website offers easy-to-access information on risk factors, nutrition, exercise, medications, support groups, a diabetes blog, etc

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