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Teen Diabetes Education for Parents
Exercise Vital for Diabetic Teenagers

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Diabetes in Teens - Can exercise help teens at risk for diabetes?

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Diabetes Health Minute: Have you had "the talk" with your diabetic teenager? Does your teenage diabetic know that they face grave health risks from drinking? Alcohol consumption is particularly dangerous for the diabetic teen because it lowers blood glucose and also makes hypoglycemic reaction harder to recognize.

Educate your teen that it's about more than just not drinking til they are legal age, it's about their life. Talk frankly with their doctor too, and ask them to step in and echo your concerns. A teen may find it easier to take the recommendation of the doctor over what may appear to just be nagging by the parent. Whatever it takes, make sure your teen is informed about drinking with diabetes, and the complications that can cause for them.

Clinical Study shows that exercise may hold a vital key in stemming teen diabetes epidemic. Source: The Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine
" Design and portions of article, by , Article, ACSM

According to a sixteen week clinical study with a group of overweight Latino Males (youth at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes), insulin resistance can be improved by excercise. Although it has been established that exercise can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes developing in an adult, and can also increase insulin resistance in adults, there was not much data on the effect of exercise with high-risk youths until this study.

Why this study on exercise with high-risk youths is important

*Insulin resistance is one of the warning signs that a youth may be at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
* Insulin resistance is common when a teen is overweight.
* If lifting weights as these Latino males did can improve insulin resistance, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases as well.

This clinical study concluded that working out twice a week, with resistance training, significantly increased insulin sensitivity in the study participants. If you are unfamiliar with resistance training, here's a good article on it but basically it means exercising in such a way that the muscles have to resist an external thing, like a weight. What is Resistance Training?

What is insulin resistance?

According to Standford University The root cause of insulin resistance is not known but obesity is a factor. Insulin resistance occurs when the normal amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas is not able to unlock the door to cells. To maintain a normal blood glucose, the pancreas secretes additional insulin. In some cases (about 1/3 of the people with insulin resistance), when the body cells resist or do not respond to even high levels of insulin, glucose builds up in the blood resulting in high blood glucose or type 2 diabetes.

Can you have insulin resistance problems even if you are already on meds for diabetes?

Yes. Even people with diabetes who take oral medication or require insulin injections to control their blood glucose levels can have higher than normal blood insulin levels due to insulin resistance.

How serious a health problem is teen diabetes?

According to the American Diabetes Association, two million adolescents have pre-diabetes. That's one in six overweight adolescents. 176,500 people under the age of 20 have diabetes right now. I'd say that's pretty serious, wouldn't you? In fact the ADA calls it "total prevalence". Many doctors are calling it a health crisis for this country, or even a pandemic though that's a word typically associated with a plaque or virus.

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What can parents do? If you have an overweight teen or adolescent, get them tested and see if they are already pre-diabetic. This means they have higher than normal blood glucose levels but the levels are not yet high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. If your child is pre-diabetic, take immediate, active steps to prevent the development of diabetes by getting your teen into a regular, twice-weekly resistance training program. Even if your overweight child is not pre-diabetic, it's important to get the weight off to decrease their chances of becoming pre-diabetic in the future.

Study diabetic diet guidelines:

Even though your child may not yet be diabetic, leaning toward healthier eating for diabetics can help. Consult with a dietician who specializes in diabetic nutrition, and come up with a pre-diabetic menus that works for your child. Increase their intake of fresh vegetables, fruits and beans.

Use sugar substitutes such as agave and stevia and keep saturated fats consumption down. Get creative .... bake french fries with a little olive oil instead of deep frying them or getting them at fast food restaurants. If you, as a parent, successfully address the issues of diet and exercise, you can help your child avoid becoming another teen diabetes statistic.

Does your teen consume xylitol-sweetened foods?

More Diabetes Information

Teen Health Alert: Alcoholism among teenagers is another rising concern among doctors and parents. Whether your teen is pre-diabetic, diabetic or showing no signs of diabetes, a pattern of drinking at a young age should be addressed with the proper mental health professional