I was never great at math.
In school, teachers often told stories about kids and pieces of food to help better understand the whole thing. You know the kind—Annie has three pieces of cake, but Jake takes one. So how many does Annie have left?
Apparently those math stories stuck with me, because this week I’ve been thinking of an example.
Jimmy has 10 candy bars. Jimmy eats nine of the candy bars.
Now what does Jimmy have? Diabetes. Jimmy and one out of four of his friends have diabetes.
In a little more than disturbing news, we found out this week that diabetes cases in kids and teenagers have soared. The number of young people in the country with diabetes and pre-diabetes has skyrocketed, jumping from 9 percent of the adolescent population a decade ago to 23 percent in 2008, new research finds.
And here’s something else scary: Some researchers have pointed out that obesity and overweight rates in these youngsters have actually begun to level off in the last year or two, yet the rate remains at about 34 percent.
We don’t need to go into all the weighty facts—that obesity causes a whole host of problems and carries a huge price tag for all of us. But one fact to point out is that Type 2 diabetes—the kind that used to be referred to as adult onset diabetes—progresses much faster and is harder to treat in youngsters than in adults.
Hands down (or sitting down, because we’re just too lazy to get up), this is one of our scariest health trends. This is about kids who think it’s OK and don’t understand the consequences. But my question is, where are the parents who do? Maybe we can still call it adult onset diabetes, because the adults are just as (un)involved as ever. They are clearly not educating their kids on healthy habits and simply are not telling them no.
Without the proper education and basic lessons and discipline and consequences, Little Jimmy and all his friends might very well gobble up all those candy bars and then it’s anyone’s guess how much more the diabetes stats can go up.
And that’s a problem that’s not so easy to solve.