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Diabetes myths contribute to bullying

Diabetes prick test
Almost 50 per cent of those with type 1 diabetes have been bullied, with misunderstandings about the disease contributing to the problem.  Writes Leah McLennan.

If you think type 1 diabetes is brought on by guzzling too much sugar, think again.

This is just one of the common community misunderstandings about the non-preventable chronic disease revealed in new research by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

The research, released before World Diabetes Day on Friday, shows almost half of the 900 people surveyed have been bullied because of their diagnosis.

"Negative experiences about type 1 diabetes, especially for children and teenagers, can have incredibly harmful effects on them," said Mike Wilson, CEO of JDRF.

The research found myths surrounding type 1 diabetes include the idea that people develop it because they are overweight, ate too much sugar or because their parents gave them too many lollies when they were young.

Professional cyclist Justin Morris is one of the 120,000 Australians living with type 1 diabetes.

Diagnosed at age 10, Morris says he can relate to the feelings of pain experienced by many young people when they hear insensitive comments because of a lack of understanding about the disease.

"Living with type 1 isn't easy, but support and understanding from people around us makes it easier," he said.

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet known, but researchers do know it has a strong family link and cannot be prevented.

And Australian researchers are now able to spend more time investigating the disease thanks to a $54 million funding boost to diabetes researchers throughout Australia, as part of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants announced last month.

In Sydney, Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton will launch World Diabetes Day by walking across the Harbour Bridge with fellow politicians and diabetes experts, while other events will take place in Melbourne and Hobart.

World Diabetes Day takes place on the birthday of Canadian physician Sir Frederick Banting, who was one of the first to extract the hormone insulin from the pancreas in 1921.


* Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes

* Around 848,000 Australians have type 2 diabetes, compared with about 120,000 who have Type 1 diabetes

* In type 1 diabetes the pancreas stops making insulin. Without insulin, the body's cells cannot turn sugar into energy.

* In type 2 the pancreas makes some insulin but it is not produced in the amount the body needs and it does not work effectively

* Type 2 results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors and risk is greatly increased when associated with lifestyle factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise

Copyright AAP 2014


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