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Book review: “Sweet Kids: How to Balance Diabetes Control and Good Nutrition with Family Peace”

Sweet Kids: How to Balance Diabetes Control and Good Nutrition with Family Peace by Betty Page Brackenridge and Richard R. Rubin
Community Health Education Ctr RJ420.D5 B726 2002 Non-circulating 

Reviewed by Melissa Grant, Community Health Education Center Intern


Food has a personal, cultural, and social meaning, as well as serving as an expression of fulfillment, enjoyment, and celebration.  So, how do you tell a child they shouldn’t eat their favorite snack or to limit their sugar intake?  In Sweet Kids, parents get all of the practical, reassuring advice they need to care for their children with diabetes.  As you begin reading the introduction by Brackenridge, you will meet Josh, her first experience as a Registered Dietitian with what diabetes can do to a family.  Josh was a redheaded 8 year old who struggled with following a meal plan, portion sizes, and timing of meals, on top of trying to control his blood sugar on a regular basis.  Similarly, in Rubin’s introduction, he notes that his son had been diagnosed with diabetes when he was seven years old.  He describes how they both had to cope and learn to manage a lifestyle with diabetes alike to Rubin’s sister, who was diagnosed when she was nine years old.

Continually, each chapter unfolds with a personal story of a child and their life with diabetes.  By having diabetes, watching food intake of how much to eat, what to eat, and at what time is one of the greatest concerns held to make sure blood sugar levels remain stable.  There’s a pressure on the parents to act as “police” to control the child’s eating habits as well as pressure on the child to still feel confident about him or herself and fit in with friends.  These struggles mentioned are commonly found in stories to be read in Sweet Kids, which makes the novel more appealing to its audience because of its truthfulness.  Nevertheless, the authors explain unique ways for parents and their children to live a manageable life with diabetes and two main suggestions are highly noted:  parents should act as continuing supporters, not controllers, of managing diabetes with their child and sharing the responsibility for the management in age-appropriate ways should alleviate some conflict.

Sweet Kids reflects on the realities of dealing and coping with diabetes while adding a dab of humor to keep you hooked.  The families mentioned in this novel are trying to live the best life they can. Therefore, you will read some stories that are enlightening and some that are upsetting, but each story is filled with motivation, love, and creativity.  Most importantly, the novel readdresses throughout how diabetes is not just of the child’s concern, but it affects the lives of everyone in the family.  Having a family approach to managing diabetes can create an easier and healthier outcome rather than the child being left alone to make all the decisions.

This second edition goes beyond the first to include information on the latest medications and recommendations from the recently completed Diabetes Prevention Program.  The best recommended audience for reading this novel is parents with children who have diabetes, yet those who would like to learn more about the daily struggles are encouraged to read the book as well.  The information is written in a way that it is suitable for a parent with a toddler up to a teenager.


To view this title, or other health-related books, visit the Community Health Education Center (CHEC).  CHEC is located on the ground floor of the VCUHS Gateway Building on the MCV Campus.

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