World Diabetes Day is a campaign led by the International Diabetes Foundation and the World Health Organization to raise awareness and funds for combating this pervasive disease.
This year's theme is "Diabetes in Children and Adolescents." Here are a few facts you may not be aware of:
- Every day 200 children develop type 1 diabetes.*
- Type 2 diabetes has been reported in children as young as eight and reports reveal that it now exists in children thought previously not to be at risk.*
- In Native and Aboriginal communities in the United States, Canada and Australia at least one in 100 youth have diabetes. In some communities, it is one in every 25.*
- Over half of children with diabetes develop complications within 15 years.*
- Type 2 diabetes affects children in both developed and developing countries, and is becoming a global public health issue with potentially serious outcomes.*
What can you do?
- Engage in Active Play
Get away from the tv & computer! When I was a kid we weren't allowed much television, and, well, there were no home computers to play with back then. Unless it was raining or we were sick, we went outside. One of our favorite activities was shovelling mazes in the yard. Sledding, snowshoeing and making snowmen and snow-angels were other favorite winter activities. So dress the little ones in warm layers and head outside--or, if outdoors is out of the question, visit a gym, do stretches and phys-ed-type games in your basement or garage, or put on the radio and dance (my mother used to do this with us while she vacuumed).
- Reduce those sweet & carb-y snacks!
Forget those pre-packaged snack cakes. Instead, reach for a piece of fruit or veggies. Avoid the dips--an apple is delicious without the caramel dip. If you must make that fruit slice more interesting, add a small piece of flavorful cheese.
- Participate in diabetes awareness activities.
Light a blue candle, organize a walk-a-thon to raise funds, or talk to your child's school about the warning signs of juvenile diabetes.
- Change the ways you celebrate.
When celebrating your little one's birthday at school, instead of sending sugary jumbo cupcakes with super-sweet punch, how about mini-sized cupcakes with small gift bags containing coloring books or other small treats? Instead of a sugary reward for good grades, how about a donation towards your child's next financial goal, or a trip to the park? Let home events be about the fun things you do, not what you eat. When food is part of your celebration, choose healthier options. Here is a dip recipe that's delicious with veggie dippers, and it's made from vegetables!
- Say no to soda.
Keep the kiddos away from sugary sodas. In my Sunday School class, we enjoy our snack with water, or the occasional water-thinned juice. They love it, and never ask for sodas.
- Vegetables are delicious!
Teach your little ones to love their veg. Half your plate should be filled with veggies, with a starch on 1/4, and a protein on 1/4. Serve a wide variety of different vegetables and encourage children to try them. If you have a particularly stubborn veg-phob, visit the Great Big Vegetable Challenge for inspiration.
- Healthier meals at home.
Add high-fiber and lower-glycemic index dishes to your mealtime repertoire. Switch mashed white beans for mashed potatoes or enjoy pancakes made with oat bran. The next time you serve hamburgers, skip the bun and make oven-fries with sweet potatoes.
- Write about diabetes.
Post an article to raise awareness on your blog. Go ahead, there's still time!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional; my advice should be taken as my personal opinion only.*Facts taken from the World Diabetes Day website.