Mangling message on type 1 diabetes

Library file photo dated 22/11/2006 of someone undergoing a diabetes test. The number of very young children with Type 1 diabetes has risen dramatically in 20 years, according to research out today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 16, 2007. A study found that the number of under-fives with Type 1 increased five-fold between 1985 and 2004. See PA story HEALTH Diabetes. Photo credit should read: Hugo Philpott/PA Wire.

Library file photo dated 22/11/2006 of someone undergoing a diabetes test. The number of very young children with Type 1 diabetes has risen dramatically in 20 years, according to research out today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 16, 2007. A study found that the number of under-fives with Type 1 increased five-fold between 1985 and 2004. See PA story HEALTH Diabetes. Photo credit should read: Hugo Philpott/PA Wire.

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Staying alive with type 1 diabetes means a daily regime of multiple insulin injections or being hooked up to an insulin pump. Without the constant monitoring of blood glucose levels, a person with type 1 can fall into life-threatening hypoglycemia – or hypos

It is a demanding condition that can hit anyone at any age, and yet it is surrounded by myths and misunderstandings. So it is hardly surprising that Food Standards Scotland’s (fss) new advertisement has caused controversy.

It depicts a mother feeding her young daughter chocolate. The daughter states that being overweight when older will make her “more likely to get diabetes”. Her mother 
wilfully ignores the warning.

This message about diabetes, diet and lax parenting is significantly flawed.

There are different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is not linked to lifestyle factors. It is an autoimmune condition (like Crohn’s and MS) and there is nothing the 28,500 people living with type 1 in Scotland, or their parents, could have done to avoid it.

But there is hope because the prospect of a cure is getting ever closer. With a world-class research community here in Scotland, there is also every opportunity to accelerate progress.

So while Fss has a vital public service to perform in disseminating healthy eating messages, this advert is hugely disappointing. Not only does it cause distress to those with type 1, it leads to challenges in broader awareness as we work to boost fundraising and progress towards a cure.

On Thursday JDRF, along with a number of families affected by type 1, will be meeting MSPs at the Scottish Parliament. Our challenge to them is to help us break down the barriers caused by misunderstanding and to join us in the search for the cure.

Peter Jones, Chairman, JDRF Scotland Development Group, scotland@jdrf.org.uk

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