Research studies have been conducted on how many are effected, where they live in the world and the total potential cost to the health providers and business. The largest groups affected are inner city minority youth, who may be living in poverty; compounded by the decreased access to healthy foods and safe exercise areas. In New York City, Type 2 diabetes is the fourth biggest killer in the city because of the high obesity rates of Hispanic and Black residents. While the treatment is relatively simple the hardest part is re-education. The study looked at creating innovative programs to teach lifestyle change through nutrition education, physical activity and improvement of self-image; all common treatments for childhood obesity.
In 2002 nurses at Yale School of Nursing developed a testing program aimed at preventing Type 2 diabetes among high-risk youth. The research and approach taken in the prevention program was defined as Coping Skills Training (CST). Through this process people are re-educated in the necessary social skills to cope with breaking out of their current lifestyle, eating habits, mental health and exercise. The angle taken in this study was clearly designed to reduce the obesity levels of the selected group as obesity was the main cause of type 2 diabetes. Along with eating healthy foods and exercising; mental health education played a big part in the CST.
Changes in society have accelerated this issue by the changes in family structure, schools, neighborhoods, business practices and technology. New York City is a prime example of this change. Marion Nestle was born and bred in New York therefore had first hand experience in this change from the days of walking to school, running and playing with other children during and after school, to today where it is often unsafe to walk unaccompanied to school; and you certainly wouldn’t be travelling on public transport alone. Parents too have different roles to play; many families now are separated by divorce or working parents trying to make ends meet so they are not around to spend as much time with their children as they used to. All this has led to a large decline in the youth of New York being able to burn the necessary calories to remain healthy children.
The modern society has not only produced new technology but created a world that needs less time to do daily chores like cooking healthy meals. Nestle also investigated the food manufacturers who seized this opportunity to increase profits by creating ways to fit meals into the busy day with minimal preparation. Another crafty marketing tool was to direct their advertisements to children; promoting less healthy and higher caloric “fast-foods”. Restaurants provide larger portions giving the end user the sense of a bargain. The result is with children exercising less and eating higher calorie foods of course there is a rise in obesity and diabetes.
Food manufacturers have always been required to provide dietary information on the food they produce. The government has produced dietary guidelines that over the years have become so complex that a lawyer s the only one who can decipher what you should and shouldn’t eat. So it is no wonder we have neglected to read it.
Social changes have definitely been the greatest reason for the rise in diabetic children. Marion Nestle’s anecdotal and factual evidence brings to light the reality of how society has changed for the worse. While we have made technological leaps, our health and life expectancy has declined in areas that should not decline. We are being affected by an easily preventable disease and passing on those bad habits to our children.