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Diabetes Health Center

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Type 2 Diabetes in Children - Treatment Overview

Treatment of type 2 diabetes in children focuses on keeping blood sugar levels within a target range. Children may need higher blood sugar goals than adults, because their bodies are still developing. Also, they may not be able to recognize symptoms of low blood sugar. To reach his or her target blood sugar, your child needs to eat healthy meals of appropriate portion size and get daily exercise. Treatment also may include medicine.

Healthy eating

A healthy diet with the right amount of calories will help your child achieve target blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight. The meal plan designed for your child will spread carbohydrate (starches and sugary foods) throughout the day. This helps prevent high blood sugar after meals as well as weight gain. A registered dietitian can design a meal plan that not only fits your child's needs but also is a healthy eating plan for your family. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating for Children.

Weight management

If your child is overweight, he or she may need to lose weight (or stay at the same weight and not gain more). This depends on his or her age, development, and other risk factors.

Being physically active

Physical activity is extremely important. It helps the body use insulin correctly and helps control weight. Your child does not have to start a rigorous exercise program, but being more active can help control blood sugar. For example, your child could play outside with friends, take brisk walks with family members, and take part in individual or team sports.

Experts recommend that teens and children (starting at age 6) do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day.1 And 3 or more days a week, what they choose to do should:

  • Make them breathe harder and make the heart beat much faster.
  • Make their muscles stronger. For example, they could play on playground equipment, play tug-of-war, lift weights, or use resistance bands.
  • Make their bones stronger. For example, they could run, do hopscotch, jump rope, or play basketball or tennis.

It's okay for them to be active in smaller blocks of time that add up to 1 hour or more each day.

Limit your child's screen time. Have your child take breaks from computer, cell phone, and TV use and be active instead.

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