A paediatrician, Dr. Nuhu Sule, has advised parents to limit their children’s consumption of sugary foods and beverages to avoid diabetes and other health problems.
The expert gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Wednesday.
According to Sule, sugary foods and beverages such as sodas, juice, iced teas and others contribute to excessive weight gain, which can lead to diabetes. Sule, therefore, urged parents to provide healthy diet for their children. He counselled:
“Feed and encourage your child to eat low-fat, nutrient-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole-grain cereals and breads, dairy products, and lean proteins. These can help prevent excessive weight gain that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.”
The paediatrician also said encouraging children to be physically active can help prevent diabetes. He said,
“Reduce the amount of time your child spends in sedentary activities that include watching television or playing video or computer games.
“Get your kids moving, playing outside, participating in sports. All these will decrease the risk of weight gain, thus helping to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.”
Dr. Sule listed some of the signs of diabetes among children to include stomach ache, headache and behavioural problems.
According to him, while it is important for a growing child to get enough calories and nutrients for normal growth and development, excessive weight gain can lead to type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
“As parents, you need to protect your children from as many diseases and disorders as possible. And yet it’s easy to overlook your child’s vulnerability to one of the most serious diseases – diabetes.
“And while some children are unable to avoid type 1 diabetes, there are many positive ways to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes during childhood.”
He described diabetes as a disease that affects the way the body uses glucose, the main type of sugar in the blood. Sule said:
“Glucose is the major source of energy that fuels the body’s function, and it comes from the foods we eat. In order to use glucose, the body needs the hormone insulin.
“However, people with diabetes are either unable to make insulin or the insulin they have doesn’t work like it should.”
According to him, the two major types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2.
“The problem with Type 1 diabetes is that your immune system attacks the pancreas and destroys the cells that manufacture insulin.
“With Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas can still make insulin, but the body doesn’t respond to it properly.
“With both types of diabetes, the cells can’t get glucose normally, as a result, blood sugar levels soar, making the child sick if not treated.”
He added that although Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, research suggests that breastfeeding, avoiding early introduction to solid foods, and other factors might lower a child’s risk of developing the disease.
“There’s no way to predict whether your child will get Type 1 diabetes, but early signs of the disease can be detected with blood tests.
“On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be prevented. The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include excessive weight gain or obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.”