Jeremy Vine Show- Are You Annoyed People Think All Diabetes Types Are The Same?

For those of you who might have missed his show today, Jeremy Vine the BBC Radio 2 presenter was talking about diabetes on his radio programme, just after lunch. More specifically he was asking listeners to get in touch if they had type 1 diabetes and felt frustrated about the assumptions made about type 2 diabetes being just like type 1. Did people get type 1 because they were overweight or didn't exercise enough? was the kind of question that he wanted answers to.

More often than not there's rarely a day that goes by when diabetes isn't mentioned in the press and media, it really is very topical at the moment. But it's especially topical today because Diabetes UK have expressed concerns about how little leadership the government has been delivering, in terms of raising awareness of diabetes, especially type 2. Bearing in mind type 1 diabetes is where for unknown reasons your pancreas stops producing insulin altogether. With type 2 diabetes it can be brought on by environmental factors and can sometimes be avoidable. Baroness Barbara Young the Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, whom I met a little while ago at the first YLAG meeting in London, was a guest on Jeremy Vine's show. Baroness Young made a point that really resonated with me regarding Type 2 diabetes, when she said that "If you understood [the implications of diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes], you'd want to avoid it".

For me this statement sums up a little of the discontent that I've witnessed people with Type 1 diabetes express towards people with type 2 diabetes. Along with some of the frustration felt by people with Type 1 diabetes at being tarred with the same brush as it were. I can write first hand that it's very difficult to live with a condition that 'happened to you', opposed to one that I must stress 'sometimes' but certainly not always, happened because of the choices you made concerning health, diet and exercise. Jeremy Vine tackled Baroness Young with some quite tricky questions, such as 'would she consider Type 2 diabetes the most avoidable disease in the world?' and 'with what level of certainty can you say someone ate too much cake [and got Type 2 diabetes] ?' However, Baroness Barbara answered his questions really well, making it clear that there are 'risk factors' that can make someone more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Such as your age, weight, which ethnic group you might belong to, in addition to your diet and lifestyle. Directing listeners to the Diabetes UK website to take the risk assessment there, if they so wished.

Jeremy then had another guest in the studio with diabetes - Dominic a man with type 1 diabetes, who told his story about how he was diagnosed with the condition. It was a diagnosis story I'd never heard before about Dominic in his early/ pre-teens. Dominic had a friend with diabetes that he had grown up with. When he started presenting the early symptoms of diabetes and recognising the symptoms that precede diagnosis because of said friend, he did a blood sugar check on his friend's blood sugar machine and seeing the result was high, took himself to the doctors to be diagnosed. There was then a lady caller who described her frustration of the 'dirty looks' she experienced whilst getting her large prescription for Type 1 diabetes from the pharmacy, in England. She believed the judgement was based on the fact that people were annoyed at her for not having to pay for her prescriptions. Another caller told her very moving story from a mother's point of view, having lost her previously healthy son who had Type 1 diabetes and suffered a hypo and sadly lost his life as a result. The lady explained how her son had been a regular Zumba enthusiast and was absolutely not the stereotype that can sometimes be associated with Type 2/ Type 1 diabetes.

My thoughts on the comparison or confusion for people without diabetes, thinking that both conditions are the same is that awareness is key. It sounds simple but it would solve a lot of issues where this topic is concerned, because increased awareness of diabetes in general would help more people recognise the symptoms and get diagnosed. Which in turn would reduce the risk of complications, reducing the cost of the NHS budget that people love to talk about when they mention the 'burden of diabetes' on the health service. I don't agree with the stereotype that all people with Type 2 diabetes are 'fat' or 'obese', in fact I think it's offensive and certainly won't help people with the potential of developing the condition to come forward if this stigma is associated with it. So upon reflection of what's been said today on the Jeremy Vine show, whether you say you agree or disagree with what's been said, the main thing is we're talking about it.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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