Parents need to help children avoid obesity

While obesity is commonly overlooked, particularly in young people, it is a very serious problem that dramatically increases an individual's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Parents may be able to help their children avoid the condition by modeling healthy lifestyles and encouraging participation in physical activities.

For children who do not take steps to shed excess pounds, the consequences could be dire later in life. One new study recently found that obese young people often show symptoms of type 2 diabetes as early as age 7.

Researchers from Louisiana State University reported in the journal Obesity that, on average, obese children between the ages of 7 and 9 have twice as much fat in the liver, compared to normal weight young people. Additionally, many show signs of insulin resistance, which commonly develops into type 2 diabetes.

The team based their findings on physical examinations of 123 children from Louisiana. Lead author Dr. Melinda Southern said the findings indicate that steps need to be taken to help overweight young people lose unnecessary pounds and live healthier lives.

"Our findings highlight the importance of interventions to prevent and manage obesity very early in life and suggest this is a possible means of reducing metabolic disease risk and combating the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes," she said.

The Mayo Clinic states that weight gained during childhood and the teen years can be difficult for individuals to lose later in life, when it may be more likely to cause complications like type 2 diabetes. This is why it is so important for young people to establish healthy lifestyles as early as possible and make efforts to lose unhealthy weight.

Parents play a central role in their children's weight loss efforts. They can help by modeling healthy behaviors, stocking the house with nutritious foods and encouraging participation in sports and other types of physical activity. With adolescent obesity rates at record highs, it is more important than ever for parents to take initiative to improve the health of their children.