The Docs: Winter sport accidents; prediabetes in teens and young adults



King Features Syndicate

Q: Give me some ammunition so I can convince my 11-year-old snowboarding son to always, always wear a helmet! -- Jason B., Bangor, Maine

A: Kids of all ages (and adults) need to do everything possible to protect their noggin while enjoying winter sports. Growing children’s helmets should be refitted every year. There are great retail places, like Play It Again Sports, where you can trade in old helmets for new ones so that keeping your kid’s head protected doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Every sporting goods store has a wide selection of new helmets for kids and adults.

As for info to convince your son or daughter of the need to use the helmet you give them? A conservative estimate is that 20,000 kids a year in the U.S. visit the emergency room because of sledding injuries. And 600,000 Americans are injured yearly from skiing and snowboarding accidents! Those numbers are staggering. But if they don’t do the trick, let your kid’s idols offer some proof.

You would never catch snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White (15 X Games Gold Medals and three Olympic golds), downhill ski racer Lindsey Vonn (four World Cup Championships) or luge champ Manual Pfister (the Austrian who reached the record speed of 96 mph before the 2010 Winter Olympics) competing without a helmet. Not gonna happen.

Helmets are required in all Olympic Alpine events. At ski resorts in Innsbruck, Austria, and in the Italian Alps, there’s a legal requirement that children wear helmets.

Folks, heads up! You will have less of a battle over use of helmets if you give your kids helmets at a very young age -- no matter the sport or activity. Then, as they grow up, they’ll be used to wearing one when they head out to the slopes, lacrosse field, bike path, wherever.

Q: My 17-year-old nephew has prediabetes (his mom has full-blown Type 2). When I tell her to change her family’s diet and get more exercise, she just gets mad. What can I do to get her (and her son) to listen? -- Gladys K., Detroit

A: People do tune out when they think they’re getting preached to, so our first advice is to back off a bit. Also, recognize that this isn’t just a problem for your relatives, it’s a national crisis. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 18% of American adolescents ages 12 to 18 and 24% of young adults 19 to 34 have prediabetes.

That’s disturbing, because it used to be that people didn’t usually develop prediabetes until they were in their 50s. When it starts early, it means younger and younger people will develop the complications of pre- and full-blown diabetes, including heart disease, depression and kidney problems. As for Type 2 diabetes, it is epidemic in the U.S., too, affecting over 30 million Americans.

So what accounts for this onslaught? Well, our genes haven’t changed in the past five decades, but our lifestyle has. There’s more stress, lousier nutrition and less physical activity. So, here are a couple of things you can do with (not tell) your sister and nephew that may reduce their diabetes danger!

-- Set up some “cooking together” occasions that involve shopping, so you can (subtly) point out the differences between healthy and unhealthy foods. Introduce them to the goodness of spices, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish. The link between ultra-processed foods, such as instant noodles and chicken nuggets, and a higher risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, high lousy LDL cholesterol, and prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes is well established.

-- Plan family exercise events: Hiking, taking walks together, joint vacations that explore the great outdoors and indoor activities that include going to the gym, swimming or playing squash or pingpong. Invite other friends and relatives.

-- Take up meditation together at home or a local ashram or yoga studio. It will help reduce stress-eating and weight-adding hormone surges.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily(at sign)

(c)2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

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