Has type 2 diabetes increased in teens and young adults?
Yes, according to most diabetes research, type 2 diabetes, which usually develops in adulthood past age 40, has become increasingly common in children and teenagers. Some studies also indicate that along with this rise in type 2 diabetes cases is an increased number of teenagers and young adults who are also obese. Although one study indicated that a rise in obesity was slowing down, there are still enough teens and young adults who are at risk to become obese and develop type 2 diabetes to prompt concern.
What are some challenges faced by parents or guardians of adolescents and young adults with diabetes?
The parents or guardians of adolescents and young adults with diabetes can face several challenges. One of the biggest challenges is in helping a young person gain the independence and confidence he or she will need in the future—without too much parental involvement that may alienate the young person. Parents must also realize that the young person (especially an adolescent) will need help now and then with the management and decision making of diabetes (for example, with insulin adjustments and eating habits).
Psychologically, peer pressure may be hard on a young person with diabetes. In such cases, parents need to be understanding, give guidance, and even obtain counseling if necessary to help the young person. Plus, it is good to know that parents and the young person are not alone. There are others who can help a young person with diabetes, including teachers, health care professionals, dietitians, and diabetes educators.
Why is a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) important to a student with diabetes?
A Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) consists of the medical orders or diabetes care plan developed by the student’s personal diabetes health care team. The main reason for having such a plan is that every student who has diabetes needs different methods of treatment. Because of this, a student’s doctor orders for school care need to be specifically designed for that student. According to the American Diabetes Association, along with the National Diabetes Education Program (under the National Institutes of Health), there is now a DMMP that can be customized for every student who has diabetes, whether it be type 1 or type 2. (To obtain this template, visit the American Diabetes Association website at http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-andkids/diabetes-care-at-school/written-care-plans/diabetes-medical-management.html.)
What are some ways to help adolescents and young adults with diabetes eat right—especially at school?
There are several ways to help adolescents and young adults with diabetes cope with eating right, especially while they’re at school. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (under the National Institutes of Health), several approaches will help a student plan meals and take care of his or her blood glucose levels during school. The following lists some of those ways (for more about diet and diabetes, see the chapter “Diabetes and Eating”):
Carbohydrate (carb) counting—This is a popular meal-planning approach for children and adolescents with diabetes. It involves calculating the number of grams of carbohydrates (also called carbs), or choices of carbohydrate, eaten at meals or snacks.
Changing-carb-intake meal plan—This is a method of meal planning used by students who take multiple daily insulin injections or have an insulin pump. Students who use this method do not have to eat the same amount of carbs at every meal or snack, but they must adjust their insulin doses (with either rapid- or short-acting insulin) to cover the amount of carbs they consume (they often use this method in conjunction with a basal/bolus insulin plan; for more about basal and bolus insulin treatments, see the chapter “Taking Charge of Diabetes”).
Consistent-carb-intake meal plan—This is a meal plan in which students aim for a set amount of carbohydrates at each meal and snack but do not adjust their mealtime insulin for the amount of carbohydrate intake. These students follow a traditional or fixed insulin-dose plan.
Overall, these methods can be used in conjunction with the student’s Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP; see above) developed by the student’s personal diabetes health care team.