Childhood Diabetes

How much do you know about your child’s blood sugar?

Diabetes is an extremely common condition affecting more than 23.6 million people in the United States. While the majority of people with diabetes are adults, children are also affected and at an increasing rate. In 2007, there were more than 186,000 people under age 20 in the United States with diabetes. Each year, approximately 15,000 young people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and 3,700 more with type 2 diabetes. In addition, 2 million adolescents, or one in six, have a condition known as pre-diabetes, which is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

In order to keep blood sugar levels normal as a meal is digested and absorbed, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin’s job is to accompany the part of the meal that has been absorbed as “sugar” through the bloodstream and then to help the sugar enter into tissues that will use it as a vital energy source. If this fails to occur, the body loses energy and the sugar molecules back up in the bloodstream, resulting in a high blood sugar measurement. Over time, chronic high blood sugar levels are harmful to the body.

Although all types of diabetes are associated with high blood sugar levels, different kinds of diabetes have different causes and need different methods of treatment. The more common form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, sometimes called adult onset diabetes. This condition accounts for 95 percent of all cases of diabetes in the United States, but for only a small fraction of the diabetes cases seen in children.

In type 2 diabetes, the body is resistant to insulin and isn’t able to use insulin properly. Therefore, the treatment focuses on helping insulin to work better with exercise, healthy food choices and oral medications. When people with type 2 diabetes become deficient in insulin over time, they can also require insulin treatment.

Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in children. Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that results in an absolute deficiency of insulin. People with type 1 diabetes are generally very sensitive to insulin. And while a healthy diet and exercise are good idea, they cannot replace insulin treatment. Insulin replacement is always the treatment for type 1 diabetes. People who have pre-diabetes have insulin resistance. This can be addressed by exercise and healthy food choices, as in type 2 diabetes.

Many people with diabetes, or who think they might have diabetes, believe they can never eat tasty or delicious food. They may even put off getting care for this reason. But that is far from the truth. Whether you have diabetes and want to control it or you want to prevent diabetes, it is crucial to work toward having a healthy diet. A healthy diet can be delicious! You can have yummy foods— even desserts— while protecting your health, watching your waistline and managing diabetes. Check out the following recipe for Snickerdoodles. After trying the relatively low-sugar version of the popular sugar and cinnamon dusted cookie, go for a walk with the family. The cookies keep well enough that you could also wrap and pack them to give out as gifts during the holidays.

Snickerdoodles

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup plus 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the flour, ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar, cream of tartar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix together. Put the butter in a large bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until the butter is light in color and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer, add the egg and beat until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and beat on medium speed until a dough forms. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Shape the dough into balls about the size of a chestnut and arrange them on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon together in a small bowl. Lightly sprinkle the sugar mixture over the balls of dough. Bake the cookies until the balls flatten a bit and turn nicely golden, about 20 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy the cookies after cooling or store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.

Nutritional information (per cookie):

Calories 63, Fat 3g, Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fat 0g, Total Carbohydrates 8g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Total Sugars 3g, Protein 1g, Cholesterol 15mg, Sodium 15mg, Exchanges: Fat 0.5, Starch 0.5