Parents, we have a problem! This was the front-page headline in the August 2021 issue of Pediatric News: “Type-2 Diabetes Doubles in Children during Pandemic.”
Dr. Brynn E. Marks, assistant professor of pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, presented her team’s data at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in June 2021. Scientists in Washington, D.C., and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, studied the incidence of children newly diagnosed with type-2 diabetes from March 2020 – March 2021, compared with data from the previous year (March 2019 to March 2020), and found that the number of kids with type-2 diabetes increased by 182 percent. The average age of diagnosis was fourteen years of age. While the researchers attributed this increase in diabetes mainly to decreased physical activity, other probable contributors were: increased screen time, disturbed sleep (worrying too much), and eating more processed foods.
This discovery gets even more staggering. Not only did more of our precious youth get diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, but the severity and number of children requiring hospitalization with this condition also increased.
Kids are meant to move, not sit. Early on in the pandemic Dr. Bill came out with his advice, known among his friends as a “Billism”: “Sit and stew is bad for you.” Movement mobilizes the immune system. Less movement promotes a weaker immune system. So, it’s no medical mystery why children who sit too much – especially indoors – are more prone to type-2 diabetes. When you eat more calories than you burn, especially from junk carbs, a child’s blood sugar stays too high for too long, and the cells start shouting: “Enough already! We’re overloaded with too much sugar so we’re not going to let that excess sugar get into our cells.” In other words, the cells “resist” insulin opening the door to let more sugar in, which is why type-2 diabetes is also called “insulin-resistant diabetes.” Dr. Mom gave us all this common sense advice decades ago: “Go outside and play!”