From Our Team
Empowering children living with diabetes and their parents to lead healthier lives
Posted on September 22, 2021 by Dr. Michael Kelly
Childhood obesity is on the rise, and so is type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of body mass index nearly doubled during the pandemic in children age 2 to 19 years from .052 (January 2018-February 2020) to .100 (March 2020-November 2020). The CDC says the percentage of children who suffer from obesity increased in August 2020 from an estimated 19.3 percent in August 2019 to 22.4 percent in August 2020.
Navigating and controlling pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes isn’t easy, even for an adult. Now, imagine being a child living with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes or who is at risk of developing pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes and whose diet and eating habits are largely shaped by the adults around them.
That’s where the services provided by the Empower Program at El Paso Children’s Hospital are here to help.
“Obesity rates have doubled in children and quadrupled over the past 30 years, according to the CDC,” says Amanda Timmerman, Manager of Clinical Nutrition and Pediatric Diabetes Education at El Paso Children’s Hospital. “That puts them at an increased risk for developing pre-diabetes and type 2. The Empower Program at El Paso Children’s Hospital provides resources to children and their parents to facilitate nutritional and lifestyle changes. Family involvement is very important, we know children do not do the grocery shopping or cooking in most cases, so having the parents be part of the education and included in nutrition and lifestyle changes is essential. The Registered Dietitians teach changes the family can implement to manage their child’s pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes or prevent them from developing pre-diabetes.”
Earlier this month, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation announced a grant of nearly $500,000 to the El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation to support services including outpatient pediatric pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes nutrition educational services and diabetes self-management education.
In type 2 diabetes, cells in the body become resistant to insulin and do not allow glucose to pass into the cells, causing high blood glucose levels. Children with pre-diabetes show signs that they may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including high blood glucose levels, areas of dark velvety discoloration in body folds and creases, high lipid levels in the blood, overweight, and obesity. Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes may delay wound healing and make individuals more susceptible to other illnesses, including COVID-19 and its complications.
When a physician diagnoses a patient with diabetes, they may provide medication and advice, such as eating better and exercise. But many patients and parents need more support. That’s why the resources provided by the Empower Program at El Paso Children’s Hospital are so important across the border community. The program provides patients with a continuum of care and access to support such as Registered Dietitians and additional guidance.
There are many angles from which to tackle the growing problem of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the region. The Empower Program at El Paso Children’s Hospital is providing a new angle of attack at the early stages of this disease that can lead to a lifetime of medical complications. Together we can help our community avoid, control and, in some cases, even reverse this chronic condition through education, promoting healthier nutrition choices, exercise and awareness.
If you are a parent who is concerned about your child’s weight or if your family has a history of type 2 diabetes, talk with a pediatrician and ask for a referral to the Empower Program at El Paso Children’s Hospital. For more information, go to https://elpasochildrens.org/empower-program.
PDNHF Initiative: Diabetes
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Foundation Staff: Michael Kelly
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