search logo

The Mālama Ola Minute is a series brought to you by the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division to increase awareness, promote discussion, and offer tools to improve the physical and mental health of our haumāna.

Mālama Ola Minute: Healthy changes to help prevent diabetes in your keiki

May. 13, 2021

Like a child needs to be in a good state of well-being to reach his or her potential as a student, the health of our community is necessary for a thriving lāhui. One condition that disproportionately impacts Native Hawaiians is diabetes.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH), in 2018, 20% of Native Hawaii adults were reported to have diabetes compared to 8% of Non-Hispanic caucasians. Diabetes increases oneʻs risk for heart attack, kidney failure, amputation and other complicatons; itʻs the seventh leading cause of death.

Type 1 diabetes is primarily based on genetics and results from the production of too little insulin, the hormone that reduces blood sugar level. Type 2 diabetes is typically acquired and occurs when the body develops insulin resistance, meaning insulin is produced but not as effective.

A major risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. Also according to the OMH, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults were 1.8 times more likely to be obese (body mass index >30) compared to Non-Hispanic caucasians (52% vs. 29%). 2019 data from the National Survey of Childrenʻs Health found  Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander children age 10-17 years were 3.3 times more likely to be obese compared to Non-Hispanic caucasian children (40% vs. 12%). Obese children and adolescents are around five times more likely to be obese in adulthood than those who are not obese.

The most effective way to prevent or delay diabetes is to maintain an appropriate weight. According to the National Diabetes Prevention Program, adults who lost 5-7% of their body weight and added 150 minutes of exercise per week cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 58% (71% for people over 60 years old).

The good news is that parents can do a lot to help reduce the risk of childhood obesity and diabetes. The CDC suggests creating a new normal as a family. Healthy changes become habits more easily when everyone does them together. Here are some tips to get you started:

Mealtime Makeover

  • Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.
  • Eat slowly—it takes at least 20 minutes to start feeling full.
  • Have meals together as a family as often as you can.
  • Don’t insist kids clean their plates.
  • Reward kids with praise instead of food.

Getting Physical

  • Take parent and kid fitness classes together.
  • Encourage kids to join a sports team.
  • Limit screen time to 2 hours a day.
  • Plan active outings, like hiking or biking.
  • Take walks together.

Young children and teens are still growing, so if they’re overweight the goal is to slow down weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Don’t put your keiki on a weight loss diet without talking to their doctor. 


To bring awareness to the prevalence of diabetes among Native Hawaiians, Kamehameha Schools is sponsoring a team to participate in this year’s Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes by the American Diabetes Association. You and your ‘ohana are invited to join our team as part of the event which culminates on Saturday May 22.

The annual 2.3-mile event – usually held at Kapiʻolani Park – has gone virtual this year, allowing supporters to choose the date, time, location and length of their course. You can even take part from the comfort of your own home by walking on a treadmill.

To be part of team “Kamehameha Schools,” register a team of your own, join an existing team, or for more information on this year’s Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes visit the event registration website. There is no cost to participate, and although the Walk to Stop Diabetes is a fundraiser, collecting pledges is optional.


Diabetes in Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics

Prevent type 2 diabetes in kids
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Diabetes Prevention Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healthy Living
American Diabetes Association

malama ola minute, diabetes, native hawaiian health

Regions, Themes, Culture, Community, Hawaii Newsroom, KS Hawaii Home, Kapalama Newsroom, Kapalama Home, Malama Ola Minute, Maui Newsroom, KS Maui Home, Newsroom, Campus Programs, Malama Ola, Hawaii, Kapalama, Maui, Health and Wellness

Kawaiaha‘o Plaza

567 South King St
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 523-6200

KS Hawai‘i

16-716 Volcano Rd
Kea‘au, HI 96749
(808) 982-0000

KS Kapālama

1887 Makuakāne St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 842-8211

KS Maui

275 ‘A‘apueo Pkwy
Pukalani, HI 96768
(808) 572-3100