In prediabetes for adults, body cells don’t respond normally to insulin—the hormone that signals cells throughout the body to uptake glucose (sugar). As a result, the pancreas makes more and more insulin in attempt to get the cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas fatigues and can’t keep up, which results in high fasting blood sugar levels and sets the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes.  

However, strong evidence suggests that certain lifestyle interventions can reduce prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes by about 58%.  

Five lifestyle behaviors associated with a reduced diabetes risk include: 

  1. Achieving and maintaining a weight loss of about 7%of total body weight. 
  2. Participating in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week—an intensity similar to brisk walking.  Exercise sessions should be distributed throughout the week with a minimum frequency of three times per week and last for at least 10-15 minutes per session. 
  3. Following a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet, which is relatively high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fish, yogurt, and monounsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts.   
  4. Limiting red meats and sugar-sweetened beverages, which are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. 
  5. Understanding your personal risk factors and getting medically screened.  Calculate your risk here.  

Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes in Children
By 2050 the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in youth is projected to increase four-fold. The earlier the onset--the higher the risk for developing diabetes-related complications that can significantly shorten life expectancy. 

Children who are overweight—especially in the belly area—are more likely to have insulin resistance, which is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance doesn’t usually have symptoms, although some develop patches of thickened, dark skin called acanthosis nigricans, typically in skin folds at the back of the neck or armpits.

Like adults, pediatric risk factors also include:

  • Having a family member with diabetes
  • Born to a mom who had gestational diabetes 
  • Being of minority descent
  • Having other conditions such as: High blood pressure; High cholesterol; or Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Being physically active less than 3 times a week

Turn the tide with healthy lifestyle changes that are good for you and the whole family.  Recommendations for children and teens include:​

  • Participating in 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity daily, which has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce abdominal fat in children and young adults.  Remember physical exercise has a long list of other benefits as well, such as reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol, anxiety and depression and improvements in cognition and learning.
  • Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) with water.  Regular consumption of SSBs has been associated with weight gain and the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
  • Incorporating more high-fiber foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, lentils, beans, fruits, and vegetables into daily meals and snacks.
  • Pediatricians recommend overweight children with at least two risk factors should be tested every two years beginning at age 10.


These materials are provided to you by Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s
Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit Eat Well, Be Well.

Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well Program

Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.

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