Making changes today for a healthy tomorrow- Dean - WI

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Published on November 03, 2016

Making changes today for a healthy tomorrow

Nearly 10 percent of the American population today is living with diabetes. Experts believe that number will only continue to rise, as 1.4 million people are diagnosed with the disease each year. Most are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – which used to be most common in adults over the age of 45. But now, we’re seeing more children with the disease. The good news is that we can help kids by teaching them that diabetes is preventable.

Know your risk

A wide variety of factors can increase a person’s risk for diabetes. Some of them can be controlled, while others cannot.

“Obviously family history and race cannot be changed, but those are major risk factors,” says SSM Health Dean Medical Group Family Doctor Dr. David Shearer. “If someone in your immediate family has diabetes, or if you are African American, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian American, there is a higher chance that you might someday be diagnosed.”

There are other risk factors that we can control, and those are the ones you might want to consider teaching your kids about.

The first is inactivity. Everyone should try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days each week.

“You don’t have to do this all at once,” says Dr. Shearer. “Simple things like parking farther away from stores when you go shopping and walking more as a family can be very beneficial.”

The second major risk factor we can control is making healthy food choices to control weight. Ways you can help your kids do this include keeping junk food like chips, cookies and candies out of your home, making sure snacks are healthy, and filling half of their plates with colorful fruits and vegetables at mealtime.

These measures will help in the long run, as weight has a major impact on diabetes. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, people at high risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the disease by losing as little as 5 percent of their body weight.

BMI calculators and other tools from the American Diabetes Association can be helpful in determining if your family members are at a healthy weight or if they have other conditions that might make them more vulnerable to diabetes.

Watch for warnings

Type 2 diabetes can be tricky to diagnose.

“It usually develops gradually,” says Dr. Shearer. “And some people have symptoms so mild they go unnoticed, while others don’t show any signs of the condition at all.”

But don’t let that stop you from watching out for symptoms and from teaching your kids to speak up if they’re feeling sick in any way. The most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes are:

  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry - even after eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet

Make sure your child understands how important it is to tell you or the doctor about any new symptoms, because early detection and treatment of diabetes can greatly decrease the risks of developing any complications from the disease.


Time for Kids & Channel 3

We are proud to partner with WISC-TV Channel 3 on this important initiative.

Visit the Time for Kids section on for more resources on keeping kids healthy!

Related Services

Looking for assistance with your diet and eating habits? Check out the services of:

Mental Health Services

Comprehensive Weight Management Program

Pediatric Dietitian Services

Nutrition Services

Diabetes Management

Living Healthy Program - For Dean Health Plan members

Healthy Partners Program - For Dean Health Plan members

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