SHREVEPORT, La. — Obesity and diabetes are epidemic health problems.
Children with obesity face four times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to children with a body mass index in the normal range. Obesity affects the body's ability to use insulin, which causes abnormal blood glucose levels.
Dr. Monica Haynes, a pediatrician with Willis Knighton Health System, said increased obesity has led to a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes in kids.
“Back in the '80s and '90s, it was anywhere between 3 to 5% of pediatrics, and now, it's closer to between 18.5 to about 20%, depending on who you read,” Haynes said. “Correlating with that is, we feel, the increased percentage of obesity that we've seen. And we feel like the two are not, it's not a coincidence, we feel like there's definitely a correlation relationship there.”
If not treated, childhood diabetes can have severe consequences. When the blood sugar is too high for too long, a build up of acids can lead to a diabetic coma or even death. Haynes says diabetes can usually be treated with medication and lifestyle changes.
“So that's something that sometimes can be managed with a medication called Metformin. Generally, a lot of cases of type two diabetes, usually it's more in our obese teenagers, generally are successful with Metformin and lifestyle modification,” Haynes said. “However, if that fails, then, of course, we're talking about insulin would be the next step.”
Fatigue and frequent urination are common symptoms of childhood diabetes. Eating a healthy diet and exercising can help to reverse both obesity and diabetes.