Letters for the week of November 24, 2021
The time is now
As I read Dr. William Lombard’s letter in lat week’s publication asking that all Whatcom County school superintendents, our health department, the county council, and other community collaborators integrate diabetes prevention and education into the public school curriculum, I thought, “It’s about time.”
We devote so much of our attention and resources to diagnosing, treating and managing disease, rather than on prevention, that we are failing our young people by not educating them about the horrendous impairments that diabetes can cause. Most type 2 diabetes is preventable, so early interventions are ethically mandatory.
School plays a key role in the development of children and teens by contributing to beliefs and behaviors, diabetes education focused on promoting healthy lifestyles and the prevention of type 2 diabetes is a medical imperative. Type 2 diabetes has been described as a new epidemic affecting the American pediatric population.
Until recently, children and teens rarely got type 2 diabetes mellitus, which is why it was formerly called adult-onset diabetes. Now, about one-third of American youth are overweight and kids, some as young as 10 years old, are diabetic. About one in five children and adolescents in the U.S. have obesity. Yes, obesity is complex, and many factors contribute to excess weight gain, but societal and community factors also matter, and that is another reason why diabetes education must be in the school curriculum.
I agree with Dr. Lombard. We can’t keep putting diabetes prevention off because of COVID, or climate change, or political disagreements, or a perceived lack of funding to help our children and grandchildren have a healthy, productive future. Diabetes is the most expensive chronic condition in our nation.
The cost is too high and our young people deserve better. The time is now.