Call For Healthy Eating And Exercise On World Diabetes Day Neglects Innocent Type 1 Patients

The difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

For World Diabetes Day, health experts across the globe call for an increase in healthy eating and physical activity to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes affects about 387 million people worldwide, but healthy eating and exercise will only help lower the risk of developing the most common type of diabetes. Though nine out of 10 diabetics have Type 2 diabetes, there is another type of diabetes that is often overlooked and not discussed enough. For the minority of diabetes sufferers diagnosed with Type 1, healthy food and exercise could not prevent their diabetes.

Type 1 diabetics are innocent sufferers of an autoimmune condition. These patients haven’t necessarily eaten too much sugar or failed to exercise. Many find themselves frustrated, as experts seemingly ignore their plight simply because they are in the minority.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world will have about 592 million diabetics by 2035, and they attribute this forecast to low physical activity and poor eating habits. Rarely is it explicitly explained that the only type of diabetes that can be prevented through diet and exercise is Type 2 diabetes.

“We have an increasing supply of food, including junk food, which is relatively cheap and heavily advertised – soft drinks with a lot of sugar, for example,” says Prof. Rydén, spokesperson for the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) of diabetes for World Diabetes Day. “The typical heart attack patient today is a sedentary, overweight person with type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance, while in the past the average patient was a lean, stressed chain smoker.”

In the United States, adults are told to engage in “75 minutes of vigorous-intensity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week,” according to a Medical News Today article about World Diabetes Day. Physical activity can help lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, the CDC says even that is achieved by less than half of all adult Americans.

Hardly mentioned is the other group of diabetics. They are usually diagnosed during childhood, and World Diabetes Day information is lacking in awareness of this innocent minority. Type 1 diabetes patients are insulin dependent. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. It was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Though some sources say up to 10 percent of diabetes sufferers are Type 1, the American Diabetes Association states that only five percent of people with diabetes have the Type 1 form of the disease.

In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, “the immune system, which normally ignores healthy cells but destroys germs and foreign substances that could cause illness, mistakenly launches an attack on the body itself – in this case destroying insulin producing islet cells in the pancreas.”

For the Type 1 diabetic, cutting back on sugar will not heal them. Type 1 diabetes in an autoimmune disease that can not be reversed with better eating habits or more exercise. That doesn’t stop well-meaning people from telling parents of children with Type 1 diabetes that healthier habits can fix their children. Regularly, patients with Type 1 diabetes never had unhealthy lifestyles to begin with. Type 1 diabetes is extremely misunderstood by the general public. Plus, in an attempt to try to prevent Type 2 diabetes, health campaigns like those launched on World Diabetes Day neglect to enlighten the public about the fact that Type 1 diabetics could have never prevented their diabetes by following the common advice to eat better and exercise more.

Type 1 diabetics are doing their best to raise awareness about the disease that threatens their lives every single day with the hashtag campaign #T1DLooksLikeMe. Many people have come to associate diabetes with obesity, but as this new campaign shows, people who appear physically fit can be fighting for their lives against Type 1 diabetes.

[Photo by Jeff Noble via Flickr | Cropped and Resized | CC BY 2.0]