Need or Purpose
Diabetes mellitus continues
to rise among children, adults, and seniors with 1.5 million new diagnoses of diabetes each year (ADA, 2017). In 2015, 30.3 million Americans (9.4% of the
population) had diabetes, and approximately 1.25 million American children and
adults had type 1 diabetes, previously known as adolescent diabetes due to its prevalence in children (ADA, 2017). In 2011-2012, the annual incidence of
diagnosed diabetes in youth was estimated at 17,900 with type 1 diabetes and
5,300 with type 2 diabetes (ADA, 2017).
About 193,000 Americans under the age of 20 are estimated to have
diagnosed diabetes, which is approximately 0.24% of that population (ADA, 2017). This increase in diabetes also means an
increase in overall direct medical costs, reduced productivity, and an increase
in indirect medical costs (ADA, 2017).
If the prevention of diabetes targeted children/youth of our country, then costs may plateau or decrease as fewer people/children are diagnosed with
diabetes. A diabetes prevention
education program is needed in order to increase awareness that diabetes can be
(for the most part) be prevented through diet and exercise. This education program would be
provided/funded privately (not via school/school district) and would be a
series of presentations, lectures, cooking demos, active physical activity classes
in order to provide a well-rounded understanding of the disease, and offer tips
and advice on how to prevent children from the diagnosis of this disease. The goal would be that these children would take
this knowledge home and share with the family, as well as grow to become adults
that are health/nutrition aware to increase the chances of continued
An educational program
for diabetes prevention in school children will be a series of presentations to
raise awareness of type II diabetes and ways to prevent or delay it with diet
and exercise. Children will learn about
type II diabetes and their risk factors, which include obesity, not exercising, and poor eating habits. The presentations will include lectures,
healthy snack ideas, and physical activity classes with the goal of educating
children to eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a healthy lifestyle as a means
of preventing type II diabetes.
Eating healthy will be
stressed with the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables. They will learn to Create Your Plate by a
visualization showing how to fill half a dinner plate with non-starchy vegetables,
the other half divided into half with a lean protein, and the remaining quarter
with carbohydrates or starches, such as brown rice or whole grain pasta (“Create Your Plate: American Diabetes Association®,”
should include water and sugar-sweetened
drinks including, sodas, juices, sports drinks, and coffee drinks should be
limited, which add calories with little or no nutritional value. Children should limit their intake of fast
food should and learn to make healthier choices at restaurants (“Preventing
Type 2 in Children: American Diabetes Association®,” n.d.).
A demonstration on how to make healthy snacks will include fruit and
cheese kabobs, vegetable hummus cups, and ham and cheese pretzel bites.
To be more active, children should limit their screen
time of computers, video games, and television to no more than two hours a
day. Aerobic exercise can be a part of
normal daily activities, including brisk walking, running, bike riding,
swimming, and school team sports.
Strength training, such as hand weights, pull-ups, and push-ups should
be added to their routine three or four times a week. Recreational sports such as hiking, walking,
sports, and dancing can relieve stress and are activities that can be done with
friends or family (Diabetes Association, n.d.). Programs with the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club
should be promoted as a means of involving students in physical exercise or team
In closing, the presentation will encourage school kids
to keep a log or journal of their daily activities and diet. Including their friends and family members
are a way to teach others and stay motivated.
The benefits of a good education in diabetes and its
prevention are fundamental, but unfortunately one of the most deficient
branches of medicine is prevention and not only in diabetes but in all
diseases, that can prevent its appearance.
Although diabetes has a hereditary genetic character, general habits,
lifestyle, nutrition, habitat, economy, politics, health system, and many other
factors directly affect the development and exponential growth of patients with
diabetes, adding that Type 1 diabetes remains one of the most important health
problems in childhood.
Diabetes education and prevention, as well as good
eating habits, should be instilled in
children from an early age, and what better than in schools where they spend
most of the day. The statistics are not
positive, the rates of newly diagnosed
cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are increasing in youth population in the
United States. Approximately 208,000
people younger than 20 years are living with diagnosed diabetes (National Institutes
of Health – NIH 2017). After the
calculation of annual incidence rates between 2002–2012 period, 11,245 youths
with type 1 diabetes between 0 to 19 years old, and 2846 with type 2 diabetes
between 10 to 19 years old were identified. Diabetes type 1 diabetes increased
by 1.4% annually, and this pattern repeats exponentially year after year (The
New England Journal of Medicine – NEJM 2017).
There is a factor that we do not take into account, and although
education in this subject is essential in schools, those who have the greatest
responsibility for education and prevention are the parents. They may lack the necessary information or
may not have the time to provide a healthy lifestyle for their children,
including a healthy diet and physical activities, and resort to fast food
because the current pace of life is so demanding. If we add to these factors that there is no
law or official requirement in which schools must have diabetes education and
prevention programs and it is not considered essential, as the problem worsens,
in fact, many schools consider that
treating only the obesity issue that undoubtedly goes hand in hand with the
development of diabetes is enough.
Since 2012 there are over 500 community-based groups,
health care providers, employers, and health plans that offer national diabetes
prevention programs covering every state in the country (Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention’s – CDC 2015), but nothing focuses education or
prevention specifically in the schools. There
is a great need for well-structured and easy-to-understand programs that
include nutritional information that families can implement, as well as easy
access to physical activities. More
campaigns are also needed in schools for health plans that include preventive
screenings covered by medical insurance or at low costs that parents can
afford, to improve diabetes rates at school age.
Supports and Costs
Diabetes is considered a disability by federal laws
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act, and Americans Disability Act.
These laws support and implement programs and give grants to public and
religious schools to employ educated staff to help diabetic students with their
needs. Any public school receiving
federal funds must accommodate special needs for students with diabetes (ADA,
2016). Some sources include free or reduced breakfast and lunch
programs, special education grants, and professional development programs for
teachers and staff. Support needs can
come from the community and parents of diabetic students. Financial costs can be shared and contributed by the local community, grocery stores, and
fitness centers. Boys and Girls Club
supports young students not only in academics
but also encourages participation in sports and physical exercise. A child can be mentored in physical sports with
a donation of nineteen dollars a month to the Boys and Girls Club.