Teens and Type 2 Diabetes

Help your teen avoid the increasingly common problem of Type 2 diabetes with healthier habits.

Type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition in which your body is unable make or use the hormone insulin efficiently, used to be a problem faced mainly by adults. However, over the past three decades, the rate of this condition in children and teenagers has increased significantly. Today, Type 2 diabetes accounts for nearly 30% of diabetes diagnoses in children and teens, according to research in American Family Physician.

Diabetes Download

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot properly use insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. As a result, blood glucose levels rise, leading to diabetes. Long-term complications of the condition include blood vessel, nerve and organ damage, vision problems and even limb amputation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when Type 2 diabetes develops in children, it is often diagnosed in the early teenage years. Teens can be at risk of Type 2 diabetes if they:

  • Are overweight and carry excess abdominal fat
  • Have a parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes
  • Have an African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American/Alaska Native, Asian American or Pacific Islander ethnic background
  • Lead a sedentary lifestyle

Girls seem to be at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes than boys, according to the CDC.

Change for the Better

You can help your teenagers avoid Type 2 diabetes by encouraging healthy habits, such as:

  • Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eating a healthy dinner together as a family
  • Finding ways for your children to be physically active
  • Limiting screen time, which can encourage inactivity, as well as snacking
  • Swapping soda and juice for water or milk


aafp.org, cdc.gov, jdrf.org, diatribe.org

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