Type-2 diabetes used to be known by another name: adult-onset diabetes.
Until recently, almost all children suffering from diabetes suffered were diagnosed with the type-1 form of the disease, which means their bodies could not produce enough insulin. Type-2 diabetes, in which the pancreas may produce normal insulin levels but cells become resistant to it, typically took decades to develop.
All of that has now changed. There is now a global “emerging epidemic” of type-2 juvenile diabetes. Experts estimate that type-2 diabetes has grown from less than 5 percent in 1994 to about 20 percent of all newly diagnosed cases of the disease among youth in recent years. The cause? Most health care providers say that there is a direct link between this emerging epidemic and the rise in childhood obesity.
The stereotype of everyone in Los Angeles being model-thin and obsessed with the latest health fad is in sharp contrast with the lifestyle of many of the 650,000 students that David Binkle feeds as the Director of Food Services at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Noting an alarming increase in childhood obesity between 2001 and 2008, Binkle decided to replace chicken nuggets, tater tots, and nachos in school cafeterias with edamame, teriyaki chicken bowls, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Eighty percent of the students in the LAUSD live in neighborhoods that have been designated as “food deserts,” areas where the corner liquor store or deli is the only place to purchase food and fresh produce is often hard to find.
Dr. Steven Mittelman, director of the new Diabetes and Obesity Program at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, is also working to improve the health and wellness of children in LA, but with a more research-based and clinical approach. The Saban Research Institutes’ programs focus on the individual child. In their community-based programs, Dr. Mittelman studies the link between cancer and obesity and the impact on entire populations.
Dr. Mittelman and David Binkle joined Full Frame’s Mike Walter to speak about their latest efforts in the fight against childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes.