Today, more teens
than ever before
have type 2 diabetes.
more fun, and
Take action now… check out tips to lower your risk
Be active, eat well, and lower your risk!
What is type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes means that blood glucose (GLOO-kos), also called
blood sugar, is too high. Glucose comes from the food we eat
and is needed to fuel our bodies. Glucose is also stored in our liver and
muscles. Your blood always has some glucose in it because your body
needs glucose for energy. An organ called the pancreas (PAN-kree-as)
makes insulin (IN-suh-lin). Insulin helps glucose get from your blood
into your cells. Cells take the glucose and turn it into energy.
If you have diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin or your cells
cannot use insulin very well. Glucose builds up in your blood and cannot
get into your cells. If blood glucose stays too high, it can damage many
parts of the body such as the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you may need to take insulin or pills to help
your body’s supply of insulin work better. Type 2 used to be called “adult
onset diabetes.” Now more teens are getting type 2, especially if they
How can I lower my risk for getting type 2 diabetes?
There are several ways to lower
- Stay at a healthy weight.
- Be more physically active.
- Choose to eat the right amounts
of healthy foods.
- Follow the ideas on this tip
sheet and share them with your
friends and family. They are
good for everyone’s health.
What puts you at risk?
You are at risk if you:
- are overweight
- don’t get enough physical activity
- have a mom, dad, or other close
relative who has type 2 diabetes
- are American Indian, Alaska Native,
African American, Hispanic/Latino,
Asian American, or Pacific Islander
FACT: Eating too much sugar DOES NOT cause diabetes.
How will physical activity help?
Like eating well, physical activity
can help you feel good. Being physically active may:
- help you control your weight, build
lean muscle, and reduce your body fat
- strengthen your bones
- increase flexibility and balance
- improve your self-esteem and mood
- help you sleep better
- help you focus in school
- improve your teamwork skills through sports
Know the warning signs:
If you have type 2 diabetes, you might:
- urinate a lot
- be very thirsty
- lose weight without any reason
- feel tired
- have patches of thick, dark skin that feels like
velvet on your neck or under your arms
Some teens do not notice any of these warning
signs. They find out they have diabetes when they
go to their doctor for a check-up.
What can I do to be more physically active?
Okay, let’s get started:
Set small goals at first. Do not get upset if you can
not do a lot or if you get out of breath at first. Keep
moving! Any amount of activity will help. Add more
activity each week until you reach your goal.
Aim for at least 60 minutes everyday. You don’t
have to do it all at once—20 minutes at a time, three
times a day is okay, too. There are lots of ways to be
active. Go for a walk, ride a bike, dance, play ball, or
shoot hoops. Choose what you like best, then do it!
If you are overweight, check with your doctor before you start a physical activity program.
- Be active every day. Physical
activity should be part of your
daily life. Play sports, take P.E.
or dance, or other exercise
classes—check out your local Y
for some ideas. Get from place to place by walking
or biking. Take the stairs whenever you can.
What can I eat?
“Your Healthy Food Guide” gives ideas about what kinds of foods are good for you.
Remember, this is only a guide. Talk with your doctor or dietitian about making a meal plan just for you.
Choose dark green and orange
vegetables as often as you can.
Aim for 2 1⁄2 to 3 cups a day. Here are choices that equal 1 cup:
- 1 cup cut up raw or cooked or
- 2 cups leafy salad greens
- 1 cup vegetable juice
Aim for 3 cups a day. Here
are choices that equal 1 cup:
- 1 cup nonfat or low-fat milk
- 1 1⁄2 ounces cheese
Choose fresh whole
fruits as often as you can.
Aim for 1 1⁄2 to 2 cups a day.
Here are choices that equal
- 1 cup cut up raw or cooked
- 1 cup fruit juice
- 1⁄2 cup dried fruit
Choose fresh whole fruits as often as you can.
Choose whole grain
foods for at least
3 of your 6 choices.
Aim for 6 to 7 ounces a day.
Here are choices that equal
- 1⁄2 cup of cooked cereal
- 1⁄2 cup cooked rice or pasta
- 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
- 1 slice of whole grain bread
- 1⁄2 small bagel or 1 small muffin
Choose whole grain foods for at least 3 of your 6 choices.
Aim for 5 to 6 ounces a day. Here
are choices that equal 1 ounce:
- 1 ounce lean meat, fish, or chicken
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1⁄2 ounce nuts
- 1⁄4 cup cooked dry peas or beans such
as kidney, white, split, or blackeye
- 1⁄4 cup tofu
One serving is
- 1 teaspoon vegetable, olive, or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon tub margarine
- 5 large olives or 1⁄8 avocado
- 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons low-fat salad dressing
How much should you eat?
You get most of the fat your body needs from
other foods you eat—so choose only a few extra servings of
these heart-healthy fats each day.
||If you choose to eat these foods, have a
very small amount and not every day.
How much should I eat? The amount of food you need to eat each
day varies with your age, sex, height, and activity level. The amounts in “Your
Healthy Food Guide” are right for girls age 11 to 17 or boys age 11 to 14 who get 30
to 60 minutes of physical activity each day. If you are a boy older than 14, or if you
want to enter your own height or activity level, visit www.mypyramid.gov.
Limit your screen time. Turn off the TV and get moving! Several studies have found that teens who watch a lot of TV have more body fat than those who watch TV less than two hours a day.
Try to cut some calories. If you cut 100 to 200 calories a day, it can make a big difference.
||You could cut about:
|Drink water instead of regular soda or a sweetened fruit drink
|Eat a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar or a bag of chips
|Eat a small serving of french fries or share a big one
|Eat one half cup of sugar-free, nonfat pudding instead of
regular ice cream
Try these healthy eating tips.
- Take your time when you eat. It takes
about 15 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. So, wait 15 minutes before eating second helpings.
- Do not skip meals. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner,
plus a snack. You will have a ready supply of
energy and not get too hungry.
- For breakfast, try one or two slices of whole grain
toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter, a hard-boiled
egg, or a piece of low-fat cheese, along
with a glass of low-fat or nonfat milk.
- Make a sandwich with turkey or lean beef for lunch.
Use mustard or a little low-fat mayonnaise.
- Snack on a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with
low-fat or nonfat milk and a piece of fruit.
- Don’t “super-size” it! Order smaller, kid-sized meals
and drink water or low-fat or nonfat milk. Share a
larger meal with a friend.
- Fill up half of your plate with salad or vegetables.
Use small amounts of low-fat salad dressing,
mayonnaise, or margarine.
What’s in it for me?
If you lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, you will:
- have more energy
- feel good about yourself
- be healthy now and in the future
Take action now. Use the ideas in this tip sheet to
stay healthy and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Are studies being done about type 2 diabetes?
Yes, studies are being done to learn ways to help
prevent and manage type 2 diabetes in kids and
The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study is
finding out how many kids and teens have type 2
The TODAY Trial is finding the best ways to treat
type 2 diabetes in kids and teens.
The HEALTHY Study is testing a program to lower
risk factors for type 2 diabetes in middle school
Learn more! Check out…
National Diabetes Education Program for more
about diabetes www.YourDiabetesInfo.org
American Diabetes Association for help
to manage diabetes www.diabetes.org/planetD
American Dietetic Association to find a dietitian
near you www.eatright.org • 1-800-366-1655
Bam! Body and Mind website for help to stay healthy
Children With Diabetes website for more about kids
and families with diabetes www.childrenwithdiabetes.com
MyPyramid.gov for more about healthy eating
and being active www.mypyramid.gov
National Association for Health and Fitness that
promotes physical activity
www.physicalfitness.org • 1-716-583-0521
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse for
more about diabetes
www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov • 1-800-860-8747
President’s Council on Physical Fitness and
Sports that promotes physical activity www.fitness.gov
USDA Team Nutrition to make healthy food choices
and stay active www.fns.usda.gov/eatsmartplayhardkids
VERB for cool and fun ways to be active every day
WIN – Weight-control Information Network for weight control help:
- Take Charge of Your Health! A Teenager’s Guide to Better Health
Special thanks to the teens who helped create this tip sheet
Francine Kaufman, M.D., Head, Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism
at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and Janet Silverstein, M.D., Professor and Chief,
Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
reviewed this material for technical accuracy.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education
Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the support of more than
200 partner organizations. www.YourDiabetesInfo.org or 1-888-693-NDEP
Revised November 2007 NIH Publication No. 08-5295 NDEP-87
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