“If we do not intervene, the children who have prediabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetes and also have a higher risk of all cardiovascular diseases,” Liu said.
“As a society we need to work together to reduce obesity and prediabetes in youth,” Gabbay said. “This will take a broad public health approach from working in schools, families, and most importantly availability of healthy foods with a particular emphasis on populations that are (at) greatest risk such as the youth population.”
What the study couldn’t answer is why prediabetes has been on the rise, Liu said, and that is the next question future research should pose.
What parents and caregivers can do
There may still be questions about what is causing the rise, but Liu and Gabbay said a healthy lifestyle is a great place for families to start to reduce their risk.
Most children should be getting regular physical activity, reducing screen time, spending more time outside, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep, Liu said.
Getting kids away from the screen and moving can be a challenge for some, so CNN contributor Stephanie Mansour, host of “Step It Up With Steph” on PBS, suggested working with your child to find what works for them — whether it’s team sports, swimming on a summer day or going for a family hike.
“Allowing your child to find what sports or physical activities they’re interested in early on can give them something to look forward to while maintaining good health and fitness during the school year,” Mansour said.
And when it comes to healthy eating, it doesn’t have to be a fight.