More than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. And many of them are children and adolescents. Cases of Type 2 diabetes are on the rise among those 20 and under in the U.S., according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Your body processes sugar (glucose) into fuel from the foods you eat. But when the body can’t process the sugar and it builds up in the bloodstream, the reason might be a chronic disease — Type 2 diabetes.
“Symptoms like losing weight without a good reason, waking up at night to use the bathroom frequently, feeling fatigued, feeling not like yourself, those are all clues that there’s something else going on,” says Dr. Ardon.
Regular exercise and a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and lean proteins in place of processed foods that are high in fat and sugar can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
“Make sure we’re exposing them to healthy foods so they can develop those healthy habits over a lifetime,” says Dr. Ardon.
Young people who develop diabetes are at a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, vision problems, and nervous system and kidney function issues.
“Seeing your primary care physician regularly can also be a really important tool that gives us a chance to catch things early, either on your bloodwork or your vital signs or with your weight,” says Dr. Ardon. “We can provide some interventions and sometimes even some medications to help prevent the progression of Type 2 diabetes.”