Twins Always Take Care of Each Other!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Public Confusion Over "Diabetes"

I am sure at one point in my life I was just as guilty as everyone else. Diabetes. There it is. Diabetes. What? You mean there is more than one kind?? You bet there are!

How many people really know there are two different kinds? And that those two kinds are two very different diseases. 

And the mainstream media does not help in accurately representing the difference. For example, here are two headlines that caught my attention: "Vitamin D May Lower Diabetes Risk in Obese Children and Adolescents" and "Diabetes Diet: New Book: 'The End of Diabetes' Highlights Ways to Prevent and Reverse the Disease." The headline only states "diabetes" and doesn't specify which type. And I am by no means an expert on either type, but by virtue of having a child with type 1 diabetes, I have come pretty darn familiar with it. 

I cringe when I see headlines like this. You cannot prevent and reverse type 1 diabetes, nor can you lower the risk of type 1 with Vitamin D. I cannot speak to the validity of those claims for type 2 diabetes, but at the present time, I can tell you there is no way to prevent or reverse type 1 diabetes. 

When I hear ad campaigns for insurance companies and food manufacturers touting that healthy eating will help reduce your risk for serious health complications such as heart disease, certain cancers and DIABETES... again, I wrinkle my nose a bit. 

Do you think that kids living with type 1 diabetes don't already live with the stigma that they "ate too much sugar" or "can't have sugar" simply because people don't understand the disease? And the fact that the diseases are so similarly named certainly makes it easy for those who don't really understand to lump them together. 

I know it may seem like a hassle to continuously identify "type 1" or "type 2" when discussing diabetes but it is essential to understand the scope of the discussion. I feel that awareness and education is essential and have gone out of my way to educate and inform. If you would like to further educate yourself, here are some links that may be helpful:
American Diabetes Association - Type 1 Diabetes
American Diabetes Association - Type 2 Diabetes

 I encourage all to be mindful of the distinction and please know the following...

1. You cannot prevent type 1 diabetes

2. Someone did not get type 1 diabetes because they had a poor diet or ate too much sugar - in fact type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and to date there is no concrete medical explanation as to the cause

3. People living with type 1 diabetes CAN eat sugar - they must monitor their carbohydrate intake and offset that carb intake with appropriate levels in insulin

4. People with type 1 diabetes will NOT "grow out of it" - to date there is no cure for type 1 diabetes. Although we all have hope that one is on the way :-)

5. People living with type 1 diabetes have feelings too. Please be respectful when inquiring about their disease. Asking questions is not a problem, in fact, most people will welcome questions because it is an opportunity to educate about the disease, just be sure to remember to be respectful of their feelings while asking. 

Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope this might be helpful information. Please take the time to share this with someone (or a bunch of people) in your life and help spread the word! :-)