Category Archives: childhood diabetes

Innocent Type 1s? How divisive!

are-you-an-angel-or-a-devilI found an article yesterday. You might already have seen it by now. It’s entitled, “Call for healthy eating and exercise on World Diabetes Day neglects innocent Type 1 patients“.

I hate, actually hate, that title. “Innocent Type 1 patients” says what about people living with Type 2 diabetes? That they are not innocent it can only be assumed.

This awful article, published in the Inquisitr, and penned by Dawn Papple goes on to say,

Type 1 diabetics are innocent sufferers of an autoimmune condition. These patients haven’t necessarily eaten too much sugar or failed to exercise.

True on the one hand. The problem being that on the other Ms Papple alludes that people living with Type 2 diabetes are guilty sufferers? Guilty of having eaten too much sugar or failed to exercise?

Well I am writing today to inform Ms Papple, and anyone who has applauded her article, that not everyone with Type 2 diabetes has overindulged in sugar or sloth either. Whether through ignorance or intention she fails to show any understanding of Type 2 diabetes, or to represent Type 2 patients with the same consideration she demands for people living with Type 1 diabetes. Her article laments the lack of understanding about Type 1 diabetes, whilst showcasing her own acute lack of understanding of Type 2 diabetes!

She writes:

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.

Well here’s the shocking truth – people who appear physically fit can be fighting for their lives against Type 2 diabetes!

Research shows there is a genetic aspect to Type 2 as well as Type 1. Like it or not, research shows there are some food links with Type 1 as well as Type 2. Research also shows that it’s such a common phenomenon for older people with Type 2 to be lean (estimates suggest 20%) that another recent article proposes a new label – Type 4 diabetes. One of my own clients is a lady, aged 61 years and weighing just 55kg, or 120lbs, or about 8 and a half stones – HbA1c 45 and heading north in consecutive tests! Not yet diabetic, but on her way. On her innocent way!

Furthermore, a new test is being developed to distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes at the point of diagnosis – precisely because the boundaries between the two are not so clear cut!

All this highlights is the uselessness of labels. Type 1 and Type 2 and, potentially, Type 4 are all man-made constructs of language. They should not be used divisively, discriminatingly, or to the detriment of anyone with diabetes.

Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. May I suggest that if you want understanding and compassion for yourself, it would be appropriate to first show those same considerations to others?

I am thoroughly sick and tired of “diabetism”. Sick of any notion of innocent Type 1 v. self-imposed Type 2. The issues of pathogenesis are far more complex than this – for all types of diabetes.

At the start of November, I called for all people affected by diabetes to #standtogether. As we approach the end of International Diabetes Awareness Month 2015, I am again asking for ALL PEOPLE AFFECTED BY DIABETES TO #STANDTOGETHER!

Advertisements

Eating for 2 might mean eating for Type 2?

The myth of eating for two in pregnancy has finally been exposed.

Over-indulgence by pregnant women has long been excused on the basis of eating for two, but it turns out that piling on the pounds in pregnancy is bad for mother and baby. Sure, extra calories are needed in pregnancy, but maybe not as many as many people might think, according to new research. And it’s important that those calories are healthy calories – because it does matter what they are made of! Gaining too much weight while pregnant has previously been confirmed as a cause of gestational diabetes – that’s been known for years. Canadian scientists have now reported that it’s excess abdominal fat that is particularly linked with gestational diabetes. 20 to 50% of women who develop gestational diabetes go on to develop full-blown Type 2 diabetes within 5 years. Gestational diabetes is one to avoid!

Even moreso now we understand more about the damage to the health of the babies born to overweight and obese mums: raising the risk of childhood obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke it is claimed. What a depressing thought!

And speaking of depressing, a third study recently published has found that a sedentary pregnancy increases the risk of both gestational diabetes and depression.

Never has activity and healthy eating been more advisable for mums-to-be. It’s time to stand up for babies – literally to stand up for babies!

Healthy Halloween?

Halloween treat 1I love Halloween. Not least because it’s my wedding anniversary!

But I get that this can be a difficult day for people with diabetes. Take a look online and you’ll find conflicting advice – from don’t let your diabetic child indulge in candy at all, to the oft-heard rhetoric that eating candy didn’t cause diabetes so what’s the problem here? Confusion abounds.

My opinion is that it IS a problem. We are becoming increasingly aware that sugar is a big threat to health. Whether you already have diabetes or not, sugar is simply not a healthy diet choice. And if it isn’t a healthy choice for the general population, I totally fail to see that it can be an appropriate choice for a child whose little body cannot process sugar.

It isn’t OK to eat Halloween treat 4the candy, count the carbs and calculate the insulin dose, and here’s why: diet may not have caused diabetes, but it sure as anything is a central part of diabetes management. (That said, that explanation is for another blog another day.)

That’s where it can be really tricky – because no-one, least of all the kids themselves, want to be left out. Well I’ve been digging around to find attractive healthy options for Halloween treats. I found it really difficult: most of the  supposed healthy options are based on fruit or starchy vegetables.
Halloween treat 2

Better than sugar, and fine if you can limit the amounts your child chomps on but still too high GI really to let the kids overindulge.

Dotted around this post are some that tick low-GI boxes for treats. I didn’t devise these, I just found them. So kudos to all the creative folks, whoever you are, for devising these devilishly good snacks!

Halloween treat 5

This Halloween avoid the tricks and enjoy the real treats! #standtogether for #diabetes awareness

Halloween treat 3

Why would a 3 year old develop Type 2 diabetes?

chihood obesityA few days ago the world was aghast at the story of a 3 year old Texan toddler developing Type 2 diabetes. The newspapers, TV, radio and social media channels all carried the story.

This quote, in an article in The Independent, left me bemused:

Experts who reviewed the girl’s diet found “poor family nutritional habits with uncontrolled counting of calories and fat”.

Nowhere in this article was there any criticism of dietary sugar being a causal factor – just “calories” and “fat”. Surely there is enough evidence available now for us all to realise that the biggest dietary culprit for obesity amongst young children is sugar or refined carbs that the body can quickly turn into sugar. Yet this article lets the pure white and deadly stuff totally off the hook.

This story, sadly, isn’t isolated. In January this year we saw similar cases of Scottish children as young as 4 years of age also being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The article carried in The Scotsman newspaper at the time also failed to discuss the role of sugar in relation to these children.

The media has a responsibility to keep up the pressure on sugar. Powerful lobbyists will be doing their best to downplay the role of sugar in the burgeoning obesity and diabetes crises, but for the sake of such young children we have to make sure the finger is well and truly pointed in the right direction. At sugar.

There is enough evidence now to back up the notion that added sugars should be a real focus for change: not just obvious sugars in sweets, cakes, biscuits etc, but those needless and mischievously added to savoury foods, sauces, processed foods. Then of course there is the issue that even fresh fruit and vegetables have been bred to contain more sugars, to make tastes more palatable to children it seems.

It’s really sad to see children developing serious debilitating conditions at such young ages, and it’s too simplistic just to blame parents. Now I’m not letting them off the hook here – it’s obvious that 5 and half stones is far too heavy for a 3 year old girl and yes parents of overweight children could take advice before things get to such extreme  levels. But advice from whom? The messages about healthy eating are confusing. I see plenty of evidence, both clinically and anecdotally in everyday life, of people becoming overweight and obese DESPITE trying to eat healthily. Next time you’re in a supermarket notice how many overweight people are pushing shopping trolleys filled with low-fat manufactured food products. The very products the food industry wants you to believe, and go on believing, will help you maintain good health and an appropriate weight. They won’t. Low-fat products mean higher-sugar products of course.

So it’s really unhelpful that we have the media STILL talking about fat instead of sugar in relation to obesity. We just need to stay focused on one simple message please: SUGAR IS MAKING OUR KIDS FAT AND SICK.

Surviving Easter with diabetes?

CAdae0sWUAAm2C-In 3 days it’s finally time to rip the jewel-like tin foil off those Easter eggs to reveal the real treasure hidden inside – chocolate!

Just holding that thought evokes strong memories for me. Easter Sunday was one of my favourite days of the year: chocolate for breakfast, chocolate for lunch and chocolate for tea. With chocolate snacks in between! OK – so this is the most embarrassing admission I will probably ever make to you – one Easter Sunday my breakfast was 12, yes a whole dozen, Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. Yes I did feel gross and sick afterwards, and yes I did learn a kind of lesson – temporarily until the nausea wore off of course.

So I get it. I get the urge to give in to crazy temptation. And I get the joy that too many kids will experience this weekend when they dive into their own chocolate eggs. According to one report, the average child in the UK will gobble down 8000 calories in chocolate eggs this bank holiday weekend, at an average cost of £56.00. If that is truly an annual one-off then hey – it’s Easter after all. But there is every reason to think that an obsessively unhealthy relationship with sugar is at the root of the increasing rise in health problems for our kids: tooth decay, obesity, earlier and earlier onset of Type 2 diabetes.

As an adult my attitude and behaviour this Easter Sunday will be tempered by knowing exactly what that kind of indulgence might eventually lead to – obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes are the one’s relevant to my blog of course. And I will indulge…

…I will indulge in my favourite 100% cocoa drink – no sugar. I will indulge in a small amount (because a small amount is enough!) in one of my favourite 100% – no sugar – chocolate bars.

Hmmm. Can I guess what you are thinking here? Perhaps. You see there was definitely a time when I would have been very sniffy about anyone claiming to be so virtuous where chocolate is concerned. And it’s a real turn around from the person who ate the 12 chocolate eggs for breakfast one year.

But it’s a turn around I’ve had to work at. It’s my way of combining a desire for great health with my big, BIG love of chocolate. The first time I tried olives, I didn’t like them. But I wanted to like olives. So I worked at it, kept trying them, kept spitting them out, and eventually came to tolerate them. Came to like them. And came to love them!. I did the same with alcohol in my early adulthood too. The wine that tasted like vinegar gradually began to taste like nectar. Can anyone relate to this train of thought yet?

It wasn’t love at first taste with 100% chocolate either. But I persevered. Now, it’s pretty much the only chocolate that packs enough taste to satisfy my adapted taste buds! And I love discovering new brands, as you can see in my VIDEO below:

I’d love to tempt you to try it – and if you need an added motivation to acquire the taste let me share one of my favourite research findings in ages: high cocoa content dark chocolate, eaten in the right circumstances, could help you to lose weight!

Have a very happy & healthy Easter everyone!

Kids, diabetes and sugar

childhood diabetesI note the storm of controversy after a TV presenter suggested that Easter eggs should not be given to children as they would contribute to the rising tide of childhood obesity and diabetes.

This is an interesting issue – because in this argument everyone is right, and everyone is wrong.

So here’s my take on it in the hope that everyone feels better and more informed:

OK so the first thing to say is that MOST childhood diabetes is Type 1. In Type 1 the pancreas simply does not work, and does not produce insulin.  It is not a disease associated with obesity or sugar consumption.  These kids (or their parents) didn’t bring this on themselves through inappropriate diet.  The root cause of upset and annoyance to parents with diabetic offspring is that their kids are unfairly stigmatised as greedy or fat.

And yes – we should protect these kids from this!

Now…

…you can feel the ‘but’ coming can’t you…

chihood obesity…we also have to face the fact that we do have a looming epidemic of childhood obesity, and subsequent Type 2 diabetes – the kind that definitely IS linked to inappropriate sugar consumption.  And yes – we should also be doing everything we can to protect these kids from the consequences of these poor dietary choices.  So here, I believe, we have an absolute duty to make children and parents aware of the legacy we are creating by feeding too much sugary foods and sweets to our kids – including bingeing on Easter eggs!

And here is the not-so-sweet irony: it isn’t OK to feed a child with Type 1 those sugary foods anymore than it is to feed them to any other child.

OK so the child with Type 1 can simply inject some insulin to compensate?  Well at least in theory.  But all that does is remove glucose from the blood stream.  It won’t protect the Type 1 child from getting fat, building up internal inflammation, and then developing the same insulin resistance as any other child.

We already know that it’s the norm for insulin doses to have to rise over time.  It’s the norm for complications and a shorter life span for those injecting insulin.  That’s because injecting insulin does not compensate for poor food choices. It doesn’t protect anyone from other complications or diseases associated with obesity.

So let’s get off our high horses and understand that sugary foods, snacks and sweets don’t serve any child well at all. Then maybe we have healthier young people and adults in the future.  Until we shout with one voice the food manufacturers that make our kids sick, and keep them in a downward spiral of sickness, will continue to get away with their low behaviour, and lets our errant government off the hook!