Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Depression, Diabetes, and Childhood Obesity

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

                                                                              --Robin Williams, 1951-2014

When I started the Growing Healthy Kids organization, I had an idea about preventing a new epidemic of disease, depression, and early deaths among children due to diabetes.  I saw the childhood obesity epidemic and the alarming increases of children at unhealthy weights.  With one in three children in the U.S., overweight and obese, I knew that many of these children will develop type 2 diabetes, also referred to as “adult-onset diabetes”.  Having seen what happens to adults who are ignorant about the effect of drinking sugar filled sweet teas or sodas every day on their nervous systems (resulting in amputations of toes and feet) or their heart (4 times higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke) or their sexual health (increased incidence of impotence), I also knew that diabetes is a preventable disease.  Having worked with thousands of older adults with diabetes and having experienced firsthand how life-changing improved health literacy can be, I decided to use my ideas and my words to address parents and children and the childhood obesity epidemic in my own community and through my words, the rest of the country. 

Symptoms of diabetes include:
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections than usual

Once someone develops diabetes, they can have problems that can affect:
  • Mood (diabetes doubles the risk of depression as a result of high, uncontrolled blood sugar)
  • Vision
  • Kidneys
  • Cardiovascular (increased risk of heart attack and stroke)
  • Nervous system (nerve damage causes peripheral neuropathy)
  • Feet
  • Digestion
  • Oral health
  • Sexual health
One of the biggest (and preventable) risk factors for developing diabetes is: 
  • obesity

We can improve the health and lives of America’s children.  September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  In conjunction with this observance, I will be making two major announcements next week and we are counting on you to help us get out the word! 

Together, we can tap into the voice, words, and ideas of America’s children. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

To learn more facts about diabetes from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here.