Diabetes mellitus research has found that mothers who feed their children healthier breakfast cereals are on the right side when it comes to disease avoidance. Children who desire sugary cereals and toaster pops have been known to argue with parents who want to send them off to school full of healthy, nutritious food to fuel their brain for learning. A recent study, however, found that the amount of fiber in a child’s diet influences his or her likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. With the increasing prevalence of diabetes mellitus diagnoses in children, moms now have one more reason to insist on a nutritious diet in the morning.
The study at St. George’s University of London (SGUL), in conjunction with Oxford and Glasgow Universities and Diabetes UK, surveyed over 4,000 nine and 10-year-old school children about their customary breakfast routines. Researchers collected bodily measurements, fasting blood samples and comprehensive data on the participants’ dietary intake to determine how food choices affect a child’s risk factors for type 2 diabetes mellitus. The blood tests were checked for lipid levels, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), glucose and insulin. The goal of the study was to better understand how diet influences a child’s risk factors for the disease in order to establish an action plan for stemming the rising tide of type 2 diabetes in children.
Through careful analysis of the data, scientists were able to make a connection between the frequency of breakfast and the markers that put a child at risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. They found that insulin resistance occurs more frequently among children who skip breakfast. The missed meal correlates to increases in fasting insulin levels, HbA1C, glucose and urate. The results held across variable factors such as level of daily exercise, body composition and socioeconomic status.
Much to the delight of health-conscious moms everywhere, researchers discovered that high fiber beats sugar in the cereal wars between parents and children. The research evidence on diabetes mellitus lands clearly on the mom side of the parent-child debate over healthy breakfast choices. Not only did children who regularly eat breakfast generally rank better in their risk profile for diabetes, but also those who ate a high fiber breakfast showed less insulin resistance, which is a crucial precursor to a possible future diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Few studies have been done on the relation between a child’s diet habits, food choices and diabetes risk. Therefore, researchers acknowledge that more investigation is necessary to firmly establish the defensive impact of eating breakfast regularly and increasing a child’s fiber intake.
The findings bring hope to an ongoing struggle to hold back the tide of children afflicted with this chronic condition. The New York Times reported in May 2014 that a study of type 2 diabetes in children between 10 and 19 years of age found that the number of cases expanded by 21 percent between 2001 to 2009 across racial classifications. Co-director Dr. Robin S. Goland of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center observes that this startling statistic makes it clear that diabetes is not the rare disease it once was for children. Montefiore Medical Center’s Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center, expresses worries that early diagnosis puts children at greater risk for heart disease later on.
These facts underscore the motherly instinct to feed her children healthy food that establish good eating habits early in life and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. SGUL’s Dr. Angela Donin, leader in the recent research, stresses the importance of eating breakfast on a daily basis in the quest for lifelong health. Children may not be very enthusiastic about limiting their sugary breakfast favorites. However, the research on diabetes mellitus prevention makes it a win-win for both sides of the healthy breakfast debate as happy moms and children alike benefit from the boon of better health that comes with hearty nutrition and high fiber.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
St. George’s University of London