Teens & Type 2 Diabetes

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Four years ago, Louann Perry-Jubeck knew right away when her daughter Cariann Jubeck developed type 2 diabetes.

The Logan mom noticed that her daughter, then 12, became lethargic, irritable and very thirsty. "I recognized the warning signs and took her to the doctor and requested a test," Perry-Jubeck said.

Her suspicions were confirmed and Cariann began treatment.

There's a long line of diabetics in the family, including Perry-Jubeck, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a year before her daughter.

Being overweight and having a strong family history of diabetes increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to Brenda Rendelman, nutrition services director for the Central Ohio Diabetes Association.

"We can't deny that many children and many teenagers are frankly overweight, and are carrying too much weight for their body's health," said Rendelman.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include increased thirst and urination, sluggishness, fatigue and possibly rapid weight loss. But sometimes, there are no symptoms.

Parents should check with their child's doctor if they notice any symptoms, especially if there's a family history, Rendelman said.

"Unmanaged blood sugars can have very serious health effects," she said. Blood tests are used to diagnose the disease.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ. With type 1, the pancreas fails to produce insulin; with type 2, the body experiences increasing insulin resistance. Rendelman likens insulin to a key "that unlocks the cells so that the energy can get into the cells."

Nutrition, medication and activity are all needed to successfully manage diabetes, Rendelman said. A special diet isn't necessary, but diabetics must consume healthy foods in a fairly consistent pattern.

"Kids are very resilient with support and good health care," Rendelman said. "People can live well with diabetes. I see it all the time."

Perry-Jubeck said her daughter was embarrassed by the illness - at first.

"She didn't like me telling her teachers," Perry-Jubeck said. "I thought it was important to talk to the gym teacher and the (teacher) right before lunch."

Now, Cariann's doing much better. She attended training offered by Nationwide Children's Hospital to help her manage the disease. The hardest part, Cariann said, is monitoring her blood sugar levels three to six (or more) times daily.

"She's in control and she's learned a lot about it," Perry-Jubeck said. "She's taught me what she learned."

Prevention tips

To lower a child's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the National Diabetes Education Program recommends the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active
  • Eat the proper amounts of healthy foods.
  • Start out slow, but aim for your child to get at least 60 minutes of activity everyday. Break it up into three, 20-minute sessions, if needed.
  • Want to encourage weight loss? Don't drastically restrict a child's calories, said dietician Brenda Rendelman. Instead, modify a child's food choices and increase activity level.
  • For healthy eating advice, visit mypyramid.gov

Age Appropriate