A growing problem news emporiagazette.com difference between type1 and type 2 diabetes

Physicians use the Body Mass Index as a guide to determine if a child has a healthy weight or not. The BMI is figured by taking the weight of the child in kilograms divided by their height in meters. Gopaldas said physicians then look at percentiles. Children below the fifth percentile are underweight. Healthy weight is between the fifth and 84th percentiles. The 85th to 95th percentiles are overweight and greater than the 95th to 99th percentile is obese. Over the 99th percentile is considered morbidly obese.

“We see high blood pressure in adolescents as well,” Gopaldas said. “It is surprising, you wouldn’t expect a 15-year-old to come in and have high blood pressure, but I’ve seen 15-year-olds with their blood pressures in the 150s and 160s. There is a genetic component to that as well, but lifestyle plays into it.”


Metabolic syndrome is often a predictor of Type II diabetes. Physicians look at a child’s waist circumference, blood pressure, blood sugars and how the body processes insulin. Metabolic syndrome can also lead to the development of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in young women. PCOS can impact fertility.

“I think it is important to start healthy habits early, when you first begin feeding children solid foods, introducing lots of fruits and vegetables,” Gopaldas said. “We encourage parents to introduce vegetables to children first and then go to fruits. Give them a wide variety of all types of vegetables and fruits.

For the first year of life, children’s diets consist mostly of milk — either breast milk or formula. Research has found a correlation among breastfeeding and healthy weight. Infants who are breastfed tend to maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifespan.

“Several studies show children who are breastfed not only get all the nutrition they need from their mom, but they are also able to regulate themselves better than formula-fed babies,” WIC Manager Diana Moore said. “A breast fed child is able to regulate themselves and take what they need and not be overfed. They are very, very good at that.”

WIC is a program for women, infants and children which provides supplemental foods and nutrition education for eligible participants. Pregnant women, women up to six months postpartum or if they are breastfeeding up to one year and children up to age 5 are eligible if they meet the income requirements. Moore said in addition to helping supply families with healthy foods for their children, the program includes consultations with a dietician and support to help encourage healthy beginnings.

“Families fill out a diet questionnaire and it asks what type of fruits they eat, what type of vegetables do they eat, what type of proteins, how much formula or breast milk they are getting” Moore said. “Nutrition-wise, we like to look and see if they are getting a lot of high-sugar foods, a lot of juice.”

“The biggest thing I tell my clients is to try and limit screen time,” Moore said. “We ask how many hours a day the baby watches TV. I expand that to include phones. How often do they get on the phone, how often do they get outside to play? I encourage activity as the child is able.”

Gopaldas said there are many ways parents can help their children get back on track and maintain a healthy weight. Though it may seem daunting, she said healthy eating should be a lifestyle for children, and children should never be placed on a diet. Healthy changes can help children lose weight and they can have fun in the process.

One of the first places to start is by being a good role model. Gopaldas encouraged families to eat meals together and even suggests starting a garden as a healthy family activity. Children often take an interest in growing their own food and are more likely to eat healthy foods they help produce.

Limiting sugar is an important piece of maintaining a healthy weight. Gopaldas said checking labels on every item is key because sugar seems to sneak into all types of processed foods. Yogurt, which may seem like a healthy choice, can have large amounts of sugar.

Regular exercise is essential for children. Most children need at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Going on walks as a family, playing sports activities and just spending time playing at the playground can add up quickly to meet the exercise needs for children and adults.

“There is a correlation between screen time — how much time they are spending watching TV and movies, playing on the tablet and phone — and obesity,” Gopaldas said. “We always counsel our patients to limiting that screen time to less than two hours a day, but really, I think it is OK for them to use the computer for educational purposes but limiting their TV time and things like that are good for their health not only mentally, but physically.”

Screen time should be limited for children. Even if a child isn’t sitting in front of the television, they may still be getting too much screen time. Time playing on aphone or using a tablet or computer counts toward screen time. Set time limits and enforce them. Forgo another show or YouTube video and get active instead.

Children always look to their parents as models for behavior — healthy eating and activity are no exception. Purchase healthy foods for the family, keep healthy snack options on hand and eat meals together. Set an example for healthy food habits so children can follow in your footsteps.

Sugar has crept into almost all processed foods on the market. Teach children how to read food labels and recognize the many different names for sugar. An occasional sweet treat is understandable, but sugar should be limited on a regular basis.

Include children in selecting recipes, grocery shopping and meal preparation. The earlier they learn how to select and prepare healthy foods, the better. Children are more likely to eat a variety of healthy foods if they are exposed to them often.