We’ve all been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts of the virus on our health have been long-lasting. However, the pandemic had further negative consequences for our and our children’s health.

Johns Hopkins Medicine found that during the 2009–10 COVID-19 epidemic, there was an alarming increase in the number of cases of type 2 diabetes among youngsters. In 2020, there was a 77% increase in new cases compared to the years preceding.

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The purpose of this recent study is to investigate the causes of this dramatic growth. If you’re a parent, you may be wondering what you can do to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in your child.

Can COVID-19 be the root of T2D?

The study revealed no relationship between COVID-19 and type 2 diabetes in children and teens. In this case, the effects of quarantine and isolation on daily life are more direct.

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Researchers have connected an increase in type 2 diabetes to a drop in physical activity when extracurricular activities ended and online schooling was adopted. The time we were isolated at home was spent munching and eating poorly. We were all less active because we couldn’t do the things we normally do.

Weight gain, obesity, and the onset of type 2 diabetes have all been linked to inactive lifestyles, such as those promoted by online schooling, as well as unhealthy eating habits and a lack of physical activity among children.

The Problem of Type 2 Diabetes

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Long-term glucose (or blood sugar) regulation and utilization are compromised in people with type 2 diabetes. Specifically, insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, facilitates the uptake of glucose from the blood into the cells of the body. Type 2 diabetics have insulin-resistant cells.

The pancreas produces more insulin to activate cells. It’s too much for your pancreas to handle, so your blood sugar levels rise. High blood sugar can cause cardiovascular illness, kidney disease, and blindness.

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There has been a rise in the number of instances of type 2 diabetes diagnosed in children and adolescents. Subtle changes in a child’s or adolescent’s body, such as an increase in thirst or hunger, an increase in exhaustion, a darkening of the skin under the arms or behind the neck, frequent infections, or blurred vision, may signal the beginnings of diabetes.

Organs as diverse as the heart, liver, and nerves are all at risk from uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. Heart attacks, liver illness, and numbness or pain in the hands and feet are among the symptoms of this condition, which can also lead to frequent and severe infections.

How prevalent is Type 2 Diabetes among young people?

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Between March 2020 and February 2021, 24 U.S. sites analyzed data on 3,113 kids and teens. During the first year of the pandemic, the typical annual rise in new diagnoses was 77%, from 825 to 1,463.

The study found that more boys than girls (55%) had type 2 diabetes. In the first year of the outbreak, Hispanic and Black children’s infections virtually doubled, while white children’s rates fell. This indicates that the gap between the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in different racial and socioeconomic groups has widened.

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While the typical age for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is in the early teen years, the disease can be detected as early as age 10. Even in late youth and adulthood, one’s chance of developing diabetes remains elevated.

The Key to Avoiding Type 2 Diabetes

There is considerable evidence linking genetics to the development of type 2 diabetes. Seventy-five percent of kids with type 2 diabetes have a family member who also has the disease. 10-15 percent of children with a parent who has diabetes will also develop the disease. In cases of twins, the proportion is significantly higher. There is a 75% risk that both twins will develop type 2 diabetes if one develops the condition.

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While prevention may not be viable in all children, I encourage parents who wish to reduce their child’s risk to speak with a pediatrician and create a tailored strategy that may include encouraging regular exercise, cutting down on tobacco use, and introducing nutritious foods.

The cornerstones of health and diabetes prevention are daily exercise, three to five servings of fruits and vegetables, enough water, and sufficient sleep. Ask your pediatrician about type 2 diabetes screening if your child is overweight or has a family history.

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Recent research suggests an uptick in the number of type 2 diabetes diagnoses among youngsters during the epidemic. Since many kids (and grownups) sat around doing nothing during lockdowns, that was the main cause.

Your child may have a genetic predisposition to develop Type 2 diabetes, but there are definite lifestyle changes you can do that will not only help your child avoid developing the disease but will also improve their health. Keep your kids active, feed them well, and watch for signs of type 2 diabetes to reduce the risk of developing the disease.

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