Type 2 Diabetes affects adolescents and children too.

Type 2 Diabetes is more commonly associated with adults but according to the IDF (International Diabetes Federation), it is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst children and adolescents, fuelled largely by obesity.

The Mayo Clinic, a worldwide non-profit organisation committed to healthcare research and education, warns that it is important to manage a child’s diabetes because its long-term consequences can prove to be disabling and even life-threatening.

Part of managing diabetes is identifying risks and understanding preventative measures.

South Africa’s National Department of Health suggests that one looks out for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections than usual.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offer some tips on how to prevent Type 2 Diabetes, looking at reviewing mealtimes and getting more exercise.

Mealtime Makeover

  • Drink less sugary drinks.
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables.
  • Find ways to make favourite foods in a healthier way.
  • Show children how to make healthier foods.
  • Eat at the dinner table rather than in front of the TV or computer.
  • Shop for food together, pointing out the healthy food options by reading the labels.
  • If you shop on a full stomach, you won’t be tempted to buy unhealthy food to fill a hunger pang.
  • Teach your children to read food labels to understand which foods are healthiest.

Getting Physical

  • Aim for your child to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, in several 10- or 15-minute sessions or all at once.
  • Keep it positive – focus on progress.
  • Take walks or jogs together – look for fun variations to activity.
  • Encourage kids to join a sports team.
  • Have a “fit kit” available- a jump rope, hand weights, resistance bands.
  • Limit screen time to 2 hours a day.
  • Let the children join in planning active outings.
  • Vary time spent in and out of the house with chores such as vacuuming and gardening.

Healthy eating, physical activity and blood glucose testing are all forms of managing Type 2 diabetes. In addition, people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes may require oral medication, insulin, or both to control their blood sugar levels.

Whether it is a child, adolescent or adult, having a screening at a clinic, pharmacy or GP makes good sense.



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