Type 2 Diabetes in Children - Treatment Overview
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.
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.
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
- 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.
Your child may need medicines if eating healthy meals and getting regular physical activity have not
lowered your child's blood sugar to his or her target level.
- Medicines for diabetes help the body
produce more insulin, decrease the body's
resistance to insulin, or slow the absorption of
carbohydrate from the intestine. Your child may need one medicine at some times
and more than one at other times.
- Some children need daily
insulin shots—alone or with other medicines. Even if
your doctor does not prescribe daily insulin, your child may need to take
insulin temporarily when first diagnosed or during illness or surgery. If the
progression of diabetes cannot be stopped, your child eventually may need to
take insulin daily.