Study links childhood BMI, Type 2 diabetes

Purple Hearts in the war on my pancreas.

A study out of Finland seems to suggest that adults need to insist children play more or the kids will have a greater likelihood of Type 2 diabetes. That’s not terribly provocative, but it should provide grist for those parents who think American schools spend too much time on academics only to lose sight of the importance of physical activity.

The study appeared online Feb. 14 in the Journal of Internal Medicine, and in it, University of Helsinki researchers tracked the growth and body mass index of 13,345 individuals, 11.7 percent of whom developed T2D.

A writeup of the study was on the website of the Monthly Prescribing Reference.

MPR wrote that the researchers found two pathways of child growth that were associated with T2D. In one, low BMI at infancy that was then followed by a rapid increase in BMI in childhood. If the child’s BMI exceeded the median BMI at age 11, he or see had a 95 percent chance of developing the disease.

In the other pathway, low BMI accompanied by short length at birth was followed by low BMI in childhood. “Many women who developed T2D showed this pattern, in which they developed T2D at a lower BMI and lower fat percentage than women with a BMI higher than the median at age 11 years,” MPR wrote.

More and more we hear of school districts sacrificing recess so teachers have more time for academics. And too few people are drawing a connection to the the abolition of playtime with the growing waistlines of elementary school students. Maybe this study will help take the conversation up a notch — that if schools take away kickball, they might be ensuring Type 2 diabetes.

The educators will fight back saying that kids are falling behind. Teachers need extra time to teach reading and math so their students can compete in the 21st century. Then maybe school days need to be longer, with an extra hour devoted to building a sweat instead of building a vocabulary or collecting math facts.

No one questions the importance of classwork. We just need to recognize that so is playing tag.


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