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Prediabetes: One in Five Teens Affected

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Kimberly Schindler
Published Date: Monday, October 12, 2020

By Dr. Kimberly Schindler, Pediatric Associates

Prediabetes, a condition we’re used to hearing about in adults, is becoming increasingly common among adolescents.

According to a December 2019 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, 20% of young people in the U.S. between the ages of 12 and 18 have prediabetes.

Prediabetes is when someone has higher than normal blood sugar. The condition can eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and heart disease.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about more virtual classrooms and limited youth sports, children may have a more sedentary lifestyle, putting them at higher risk for the condition. For many children, screen time is going up and outdoor play time is going down.

Fortunately, the rates among children are not as high as in the adult population, where one in three people have prediabetes. Youngsters who have a parent or sibling with diabetes are at higher risk.

Children should have their body mass index, a measure of height and weight, checked yearly by their pediatrician. Children who are identified as being at risk may need lab work to check their blood sugar level. Here are some other tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to prevent prediabetes.

  • Limit sugary drinks such as soda and juice. Drink water instead.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit fast food.
  • Show your child how to make a healthy meal, with high-fiber, whole-grain foods.
  • Let your child help you shop for food to learn about healthy choices and label comparison.
  • Remind your child to eat slowly. If a second serving is requested, have your child take a 15 min break from the table before deciding if they are still hungry.
  • Make sure your child is physically active. Try to schedule one hour of active playtime a day.
  • Get the whole family involved in being active and eating healthy.
  • Limit television watching and electronic screen use.

Talk to your pediatrician who may refer your child to a lifestyle intervention program, such as CHKD’s Healthy You for Life, if you feel more help is needed.

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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.

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