AUSTIN (KXAN) – Diabetes experts hope this is a wake-up call for America to prioritize health after a Center for Disease Control and Prevention study said as many as 220,000 people under the age of 20 are expected to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2060.
This is an increase of nearly 700%, the CDC study said. It based its projections on trends between 2002 to 2017. In 2017 28,000 individuals under 20 were living with Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers said the rise is mainly because of childhood obesity in the U.S.
The disease can often affect more than just the person diagnosed, as family members often take on the role of caregiver, according to the study.
Two sisters caring for their diabetic father turned their burden of love into a gift their dad and the rest of Texas can enjoy– which is a healthier option to snack on.
Jess and Kristine Tran, co-founders of Nufs Superfood, did not know much about diabetes until the year 2012 when their dad, Xuan Tran, told them he was diagnosed with the disease.
“When you look at him, he looks like a fairly healthy guy. He’s not, you know, really, visibly overweight or anything like that. I don’t think he expected it and we never expected it either.” Jess said while reflecting on the day their family found out.
CDC researchers said about one in 10 people in the U.S. have diabetes, and one in five people don’t know they have it.
“When he got diagnosed, it was kind of, there’s a shame associated with diabetes. But now as we learn, it’s so common. And we mentioned it to people, they’re like, ‘oh, I have an aunt or cousin, or my dad and my sister have it.’ like, wow, how can we work to fight this together?” Kristine said.
Right away, the duo got into action, started to research the disease and discovered diabetes is manageable with proper exercise and nutrition. The sisters came across a challenge while they started to help remake their dad’s diet. Food labels became their priority and during the process they discovered sugar is often an ingredient in tomato sauce and other items.
“We had a really hard time finding good options, like everything was overly sugary, overly processed” Jess said. “We started making these bites for him at home made with real food ingredients, low sugar, but with a natural sweetener versus using any stevia or sugar alcohols, which just don’t taste great. Or they have, you know, negative consequences to your gut. And I started making them for him.”
“One of the things that stops people from making healthier decisions or healthy choices, is that there’s this perception that you have to sacrifice taste.” Jess said.
Seven years after their father’s diagnosis in 2019, Kristine and Jess ventured out to farmers markets to sell their snacks. The bite size snacks they created are made from real food ingredients – without supplements or additives. The feedback from buyers at the markets inspired the siblings to give others the opportunity to find healthier snack options. A year later, right before the pandemic in March 2020, the sisters created Nufs, short for enough. At the end of 2022, their products were stocked on the shelves of H-E-B and Central Market locations.
“At the farmers markets a lot of people would try our snacks and say, ‘Oh, this is filling up.’ That’s the feeling that you’re looking for when you’re eating food or in life,” Jess said. “When we think about the idea of enough in life, I think we optimize for more all the time. And it gets us distracted from really what the core of what is enough for overall wellness, which is eating nutritiously, getting enough hydration, sleeping enough, enough rest and relaxation and then enough community.”
“There’s someone out there who is suffering or going through the same battle. And when you reach out and look for community, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be overwhelmed with support,” Kristine said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We were shocked at how wonderful people are and friendly and helpful, so you’re never alone.
Nearly half (46%) of the 42 million Americans caring for older family members report frequent anxiety, depression or insomnia. The Administration for Community Living, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has a list of resources and support for caregivers.