A combination of better school lunches and more activity while at school can lower the risk of diabetes among schoolchildren, a new report has revealed. According to the study carried out by UC Irvine, which highlighted the positive impact a school can have on childrens health, offering kids healthier eating options and improved PE classes can reduce levels of obesity and other risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes .
The research, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, focused on schools with at-risk, high-ethnic-minority populations, as type 2 diabetes affects minorities and those on a low-income in a disproportionate way. Of the 42 schools involved, half were randomly chosen to implement the study’s programme of longer PE classes and more nutritional food on offer, as well as separate education and awareness campaigns about the benefits of healthier eating and exercise, and other activities that encouraged healthy behaviour.
The children at the intervention schools were provided with low-fat, high-fibre foods, including more fruit and vegetables, and with an emphasis on water, low-fat milk and drinks with no added sugar . They also had longer, more intensive periods of physical activity.
When the study bega, nearly half of the older children were overweight or obese, 16 per cent had high blood glucose levels, and nearly 7 per cent had elevated fasting insulin levels, all risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. By the end, it was found that the kids who had been identified as being at risk had a 21 per cent lower rate of obesity than their counterparts in comparison schools. The kids on the programme also lower average levels of fasting insulin and smaller average waist circumferences.

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