I promised a follow-up to last week’s serious and downright scary column about Type 2 diabetes in our youth. I had shared this from the American Diabetes Association (ADA): Results from “the longest-running study of Type 2 diabetes in young people… the TODAY2 Study… show that youth-onset Type 2 diabetes is more aggressive than adult-onset disease. Complications in youth-onset Type 2 come earlier than in adult-onset Type 2 diabetes.”
I ended the article with a plaintive “What are we to do? Educate, educate, educate.” Bernadine Peter, Val Verde Regional Medical Center’s Population Health Coordinator, shared ideas about the school lunch program with us at our CHIC Diabetes Wellness Support Group last Tuesday. Well, that got me doing some thinking and researching.
Yes, parents are responsible for feeding their children. But remember, almost half of a school child’s caloric intake happens in school since they are served both breakfast and lunch. But here’s a scary finding from a 2010 study published in the American Heart Journal: … children who eat a school lunch daily are 29 percent more likely to be obese than children whose parents pack them lunch.
No, fast food brought to school does not count as a packed lunch.
Why is it so hard to get our children to eat healthy, exercise, and sleep. CINAHL Nursing Guide published an Evidence-Based Care Sheet by Carita Caple, RN, BSN, MSHS and Penny March, PsyD in 2018 that laid out some of the significant barriers to changing our children’s lifestyle and behavior, such as:
• Excessive eating during holidays and special occasions
• Insufficient exercise programs at school or in the community
• Increased media use which is associated with snacking and sedentary behavior
• Food is the most frequently advertised product on children’s television programming
• Prevalence of fast food and a lack of healthy alternatives
• Poor family eating patterns
• Lack of parental support or monitoring of children’s eating
• Cultural beliefs that larger bodies are a sign of health and thinking that overfeeding is nurturing
• Low recognition of the relationship between obesity and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes
Where can we begin to address these barriers? Bernadine Peter suggested SHAC. That’s the Student Health Advisory Council made up of individuals from all segments of the community whose purpose is to advise the school district’s administration on all things healthy, including Food Service which is all about school lunches. You will find a link under the Parents tab on sfdr-cisd.org. There you will also find SHAC’s mission, a roster of members, past meeting minutes, and a schedule for future meetings. Angela Prather is the chair.
SHAC could be a great place to begin developing strategies for teaching our kids “Diabetes Doesn’t Have to Happen!”