Monday, November 21, 2011

Are You Raising Your Child to Avoid Type 2 Diabetes?

by Shani K. Collins, Your Black World

Growing up, my mother would always say: “Honey, make sure you eat a well-balanced meal, with plenty of green vegetables.”  In addition to making sure that my sister and I ate properly, my mother would often take us walking with her after work.  In retrospect, my mother was shaping our consciousness about healthy eating and healthy living.  I appreciate her for demonstrating to us the importance of staying healthy throughout life.  Similarly, through their tireless efforts to promote nutrition, diet, and exercise, President and First Lady Obama are making their young daughters, Sasha and Malia, cognizant of the importance of being healthy.  Are you doing the same?

In the African-American community, we teach our children the value of faith, money, education, hard work, family, and of service to the community, but are we teaching our children the value of having good health?  According to diabetes statistics from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are not.  The CDC finds that type 2 diabetes is highest among American-Indian, African-American and Hispanic youths between the ages of 10-19.  Type 2 diabetes is a condition caused by high blood glucose levels. When blood glucose levels are too high, the liver does not effectively used the body’s insulin. Being overweight and physically inactive are two important risk factors for type 2 diabetes. 

  Parents can help reduce their child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by modeling lifestyles that reinforce the importance of healthy eating and physical activity.  There are various ways to decrease your child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.   You can take your children to the gym with you.  You can create a schedule that enables you to make physical fitness a family activity.  You can set weight loss goals and have friendly competitions among family members.  Remember to include your children’s friends and their parents.   

Also, it is important for parents to talk to their children about the foods they eat while at school, and their level of weekly physical activity.  Cook a meal with your child and demonstrate what reasonable portion sizes look like.  Encourage your child to take up a sport or an activity that will promote physical engagement.  As with conversations about money, dating, self-esteem, and higher education, it is also best talk to your children about their health at an early age.  Whether you are a parent living with type 2 diabetes or not, take time to educate your child about the disease and its associated risk factors.  It is equally important for your child to know about your family health history.  This conversation will be important to have as your child transitions into young adulthood. 

Parents love their children, and want what’s best for them.  One of the best things any parent can do for their child is to teach them the importance of having good physical health not only in childhood, but throughout their entire lives.  

Shani K. Collins is a freelance writer and contributor to  You may visit her at

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