Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why So Many Children Have Diabetes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why So Many Children Have Diabetes

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

A few weeks ago, I ventured into a local ice cream shop and ordered one scoop of butter pecan ice cream on a sugar cone.

What I got, though, was a puzzled look from the server.

A youth probably no older than 20, he didn't know what I was talking about. Waffle cones, he said, was all they had.

Waffle cones, as ice cream aficionados probably know, are wide-mouthed cones. It usually takes two or more scoops to fill one up.

As I resigned myself to getting my one scoop in a cup, I spied some sugar cones behind the counter. When I pointed them out to the server, he grimaced and said, "Oh, those are kiddie cones. They're for little children."

I told him that was what I wanted. To which he replied, "Are you sure?"

"Quite sure," I said.

BEHIND OBESITY AND DIABETES

So in the end, I got what I wanted - as well as some insight into part of what's behind the obesity and diabetes problems that many U.S. youths are now grappling with.

Supersize, it seems, is the new normal.

Once there were smaller, kiddie cones for children. Now, or at least in this particular shop, the sugar cone - which used to be for adults - has been stigmatized as kid stuff.

Anyone who's dealt with a child knows that most of them don't want baby stuff. As soon as they're big enough, they're going to want what the big people eat.

And they're poised to have bigger health problems than ever before.

According to a recent study in Pediatrics magazine, 23 percent of the nation's youths aged 12 to 19 either have diabetes or are in the stages of pre-diabetes.

That's up from 9 percent a decade ago.

What's particularly worrisome is that researchers with the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey weren't even studying diabetes when they uncovered this.

They were trying to find out why so many teenagers are at risk for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death for adults. …

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