A Place of Our Own
About the Series Feedback Glossary Search Go Español
Home Topics Activities Resources Episode Guide Active Learning
Type 2 Diabetes

Dear Debi,
I'm a grandmother of five. Recently my husband was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. What are some suggestions for preventing diabetes in our grandchildren?
Sofia Alvarenga
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Help keep your child at a healthy weight
  • Make weight-control a family affair
  • Eat a low-fat & low-calorie diet
  • Watch for symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes & consider early screening if you're concerned
Expert Advice
Dr. Francine Kaufman
Dr. Francine Kaufman
Sofia is correct in being concerned for her grandchildren, especially with a history of type 2 diabetes in the family. Grandparents often think that they're helping their grandchildren by spoiling them a little, especially with high-fat, sugary food. You'll be helping your grandchildren so much more if you make sure they're eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. Type 2 diabetes is a very serious disease.

Diabetes is an abnormality in the body's ability to control sugar. When you eat, carbohydrates are converted into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream. Any rise in blood sugar signals the pancreas to make and release insulin. This hormone instructs cells to sponge up glucose. Without it, glucose floats around the bloodstream, unable to get inside the cells that need it.

Type 2 diabetes can take years to develop. It begins when cells stop responding to insulin's open-up-for-glucose signal. The body responds by making more and more insulin, essentially trying to ram blood sugar into cells. Eventually, the insulin-making cells get exhausted and begin to fail. This is type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is especially prevalent in minority communities. About two-thirds of the cases we are seeing involve minorities. It is especially prevalent in the African-American and Hispanic communities, but it certainly is not limited to minority communities.

Obesity and lack of exercise are primarily responsible for the rise in type 2 diabetes. Children are becoming more and more overweight in this country. It is a combination of not eating the right types of foods and leading sedentary lives. Children sit in front of screens today for entertainment - television screens, video game screens and computer screens. Kids should get out and get exercise for at least sixty minutes every day.

People don't realize that children over the age of two don't need the fat from whole milk or whole milk products. Also, juice is full of natural sugar and calories. A child only needs four to six ounces of juice per day. The best choice is water.

When a change in diet and exercise becomes necessary, it's important that the entire family becomes involved. If healthier eating becomes part of the entire family's routine, then one child doesn't feel deprived. A child needs about an hour of exercise each day. It's a good idea if the entire family becomes involved on weekends or whenever the family can. Family walks, bike riding or any activity that the family can share and enjoy is beneficial. Children should feel that these activities are fun, and not a chore. The more they enjoy the activities, the more often they'll participate.

Remember that children shouldn't feel deprived. If they are eating a well balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and if their doctor says it's permissible, then occasional treats should be OK. Portion control is important. Instead of giving a child a big bag of potato chips, divide the bag into small plastic bags. Also, never force a child, no matter how nutritious the meal, to finish everything on his or her plate. Often, parents give children adult-sized portions when the child's stomach is so much smaller than the adults. Also, it's a terrible idea to reward children with food.
Child Care Provider Comments
Clarissa August
Clarissa August
Family child care provider for 21 years
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I thought I had to buy food for my family that was different than what my diet had become. If you attend free diabetes classes held at hospitals or medical clinics, they can help educate you. The classes teach you how to eat and how many calories are appropriate for what age.
Verdis Ferraro
Verdis Ferraro
Child care provider for 23 years
Another way to get kids interested in eating healthy food is to have them help make the food. For example, I have had the kids make ants on a log, which is celery, peanut butter, & raisins. If they have fun making the food, then they are more interested in eating it.

Healthy Chicken Strips Featured Activity:
Healthy Chicken Strips
Type 2 Diabetes Featured Video:
Type 2 Diabetes
Topic: Health & Safety
View Index
Learn More
View All Topics
Message Boards
Related Episodes
Get Up and Move!
Healthy Kids
Cooking as a Learning Activity
Preventing Childhood Obesity
The American Diabetes Association
© 2007 Community Television of Southern California. All rights reserved.