Diabetes In Children: 7 Myths vs Facts

My child is diabetic. He can’t eat a guava. Will he bleed if he runs a race? There are several such myths regarding diabetes. We’ve debunked a few for you

By Ashwin Dewan

Diabetes In Children: 7 Myths vs Facts

A sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits has seen cases of diabetes on the rise, the world over. In something to ponder and worry over, diabetes is affecting young children as well. Most children are affected by type 1 diabetes, with cases of type 2 diabetes also on the rise.

What causes diabetes in children?

The exact cause of childhood diabetes is not yet known. Netdoctor says diabetes in children involves a combination of genes and environmental triggers. 

Childhood diabetes has the same symptoms as in adults like drinking more than usual, loss in weight, tiredness and frequent urination. Some symptoms specific to children who have diabetes include stomach pains, headaches, behaviour problems.

This article looks at the various myths and facts about diabetes in children.

Myth 1: Consumption of excess sugar leads to diabetes in children

Fact:

It is commonly believed that eating a lot of sugar leads to diabetes in children. The Diabetic Journey states that the common form of diabetes in children – type 1 diabetes is a result of the destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas by the immune system. This is in no way related to sugar consumption.

However, eating too much of sugar can lead to weight gain, which, in turn, can increase the risk of children developing diabetes.

Myth 2: Children who are overweight are only at risk of diabetes

Fact:

Being overweight is just one risk factor for developing diabetes, not the only factor. In fact, diabetes in children is a result of many factors like family history, race or ethnicity, and age. MayoClinic says overweight children are more prone to type 2 diabetes. In fact, children who have more fat tissue deposited in the abdomen are more prone to insulin resistance.

Myth 3: Children with diabetes can outgrow the condition

Fact:

Children cannot outgrow diabetes. KidsHealth confirms this fact by stating that in the most common type of diabetes in children – type 1 diabetes, the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed, following which they will never make insulin again. Children with this type of diabetes will always need to take insulin.

However, children with type 2 diabetes may see an improvement in their sugar levels with certain lifestyle adjustments.

Myth 4:

Taking insulin will cure children of diabetes

Fact:

One thing that people need to get straight is that insulin helps only in managing diabetes. Here is how the process works – insulin moves glucose out from the bloodstream into the cells, where it is used as energy. This helps to keep blood sugar levels under control. However, insulin cannot cure diabetes.

Myth 5: Diabetes can be prevented in children

Fact:

Preventive measures depend on the type of diabetes. The common form of diabetes in children, Type 1, is an autoimmune condition, which cannot be prevented. There is no cure for it because the cause is yet to be known. In fact, no one knows what is the exact cause of diabetes although your food and activity choices can play a role in controlling your blood sugar.

Myth 6: Children with diabetes must not exercise

Fact:

On the contrary, exercise is important for all children, irrespective of whether they are diagnosed with diabetes or not. In fact, it is all the more important for diabetic children. Exercise can provide many benefits to children with diabetes. It helps them manage weight, improves cardiovascular health, acts as a mood booster, and helps control blood sugar. Children with diabetes can not only play sports but excel in them, too.

Myth 7: Children who have diabetes cannot eat dessert

Fact:

Since diabetes primarily affects blood glucose levels, there is a belief that your child must avoid sugars and foods containing sugar. However, if children follow a healthy diet, get enough physical activity and remain free from stress, they can eat sweets and desserts in moderate quantities. Desserts are usually devoid of nutrition and are loaded with calories. Hence, it is better to eat only a small portion of the cake you’re offered or refuse the second scoop of ice cream after dinner.