OAKLAND, Calif. — Simple changes in a family’s lifestyle can stop chronic illnesses in children before they start. For 12-year-old Austin Stanfill, a makeover of his family’s diet allowed him to prevent a type-2 diabetes diagnosis.
Austin was overweight when he went to Kaiser Permanente Orchards Medical Office in Vancouver, Wash. to be treated for pneumonia. Weighing in at more than 150 pounds in the sixth grade, Austin told pediatrician Sara Bell, MD, he often found himself surrounded by junk food. During the appointment, a series of tests revealed a diagnosis of pre-diabetes.
Austin was not alone in fighting his pre-diabetes diagnosis. Nearly 1 in 400 children is diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and the numbers have been increasing. When children are at-risk for chronic conditions such as pre-diabetes and obesity, Kaiser Permanente provides resources, such as dieticians, to help stop these conditions before they start.
To help Austin get healthy, his family banded together to make lifestyle changes recommended by Austin’s Kaiser Permanente dietician that would benefit all of them. They swapped unhealthy foods for fresh fruits and vegetables. Austin’s parents began buying lean proteins such as chicken and fish.
The transition wasn’t easy at first. “Most of the foods I didn’t like at the very beginning,” Austin said. Yet within two weeks, Austin became accustomed to the new style of eating, which allowed him to shed excess weight and participate in his physical education classes at school.
Dr. Bell kept a close eye on Austin’s progress throughout his weight-loss journey, encouraging him along the way. “I sent him a note letting him know that I appreciated the hard work he’s done,” she said. “I was really impressed.”
Since his initial weigh-in at the doctor’s office, Austin has shed more than 25 pounds, and is no longer at-risk for pre-diabetes. His new lifestyle has inspired his friends and classmates to get healthy. He’s even earned himself a new nickname: Fancy Salad Man.
Had it not been for Dr. Bell’s straightforward recommendation to get healthy, Austin would have found himself battling a chronic condition at a young age. “I would probably have diabetes if I kept my lifestyle how it was,” Austin said. “I’m glad Dr. Bell told me so that I could get it under control.”
To watch Austin’s story and learn more about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, visit the Kaiser Permanente Care Stories blog at kp.org/carestories.