Television, video games and fast food have become mainstays of modern society. Unfortunately, so have obesity and type 2 diabetes. In fact, according to national statistics,
the percentage of overweight and obese children tripled between 1980 and 1990, while type 2 diabetes
"Once only found in adults, type 2 diabetes is now reaching epidemic proportions in children," said UC Davis Children's Hospital pediatric endocrinologist Dennis M. Styne. Styne has worked with overweight children for nearly two decades to help them develop healthier habits so that they can avoid, or at least, delay the onset of diabetes.
Styne's work attracted the attention of the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians nearly 10 years ago, when it began supporting his diabetes and obesity programs. Recognizing that an even larger impact needed to be made on an ever-increasing problem, the tribe recently pledged $1 million to
UC Davis Children's Hospital to fund an endowed chair for pediatric endocrinology, currently chaired by Styne.
"The staggering rise in childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes is a problem that we cannot afford to ignore. We must step up the fight against this preventable disease through educational efforts aimed at promoting better fitness and better dietary practices among children and adolescents," said Paula Lorenzo, Rumsey Tribal Chair. "Dr. Styne is to be commended for his dedication, commitment, and selfless efforts that will not only improve, but also extend countless lives."
More than 17 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, 16 million of them with type 2 diabetes. The disease is characterized by the body's resistance to insulin and impaired insulin secretion. Untreated, it can cause kidney failure, limb amputations and blindness, and is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. In children, the rise in type 2 diabetes has been concentrated largely in minority populations, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans.
"Difficulties in controlling weight gain among children due to increasingly unhealthy lifestyles has led to an increase in type 2 diabetes and related 15medical conditions," Styne said. "The Rumsey Indian Rancheria Community Fund gift will allow us to expand the activities of our team who are dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and other conditions associated with unhealthy dietary habits and reduced activity levels in children."
The Rumsey Tribe operates Cache Creek Indian Bingo & Casino in western Yolo County and has become the county's largest private employer. It has contributed more than $2.5 million to UC Davis, benefiting Styne's work in diabetes and obesity over the past seven years with annual contributions, as well as establishing an endowed chair at UC Davis in California Indian studies and becoming a major supporter of the Mondavi Center.
For more information about how you can support this or other programs at UC Davis Children's Hospital, contact Health Sciences Advancement at (916) 734-9400.