Teenage diabetic calls for more funding research

Salisbury Journal: Louise Nicholls. Picture by Antony Thompson - Thousand Word Media Louise Nicholls. Picture by Antony Thompson - Thousand Word Media

A TEENAGER who is living with type 1 diabetes is calling for more funding for medical research into the condition.

Louise Nicholls from Amesbury, was diagnosed with the illness when she was seven years old.

She says not enough money is available for research into the causes of type 1 diabetes and the development of a possible cure.

And the 18-year-old says there are still a lot of misconceptions about the illness, which is often confused with type 2 diabetes, which is linked to an unhealthy lifestyle and being overweight.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition which usually appears before the age of 40. It cannot be prevented and there is currently no known cure. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly. In most cases this is linked with being overweight.

“One is linked to obesity and is preventable and one isn’t,” said Ms Nicholls, a sixth form student at Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire.

“I’ve had people say to me when I tell them that I have diabetes ‘why do you have diabetes, you aren’t fat?” she added.

“The ironic thing is that I don’t like sweet things and the only thing my parents can get me to eat when my blood sugar drops is chocolate.”

The teenager and her parents have complained to several media organisations about how they write about diabetes. “It doesn’t help when there are all these stories about how the increase in obesity is linked to the increase in diabetes.

“That is for type 2 – not type 1,”

said Ms Nicholls.

“Type 1 is very much forgotten about. Billions is spent on treating type 2 and little is spent on researching what causes type 1.”

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a charity which focuses on type 1, says the incidence of type 1 is going up but Government spending on type 1 research is falling.

In 2008/9 the Medical Research Council invested £6.6m in type 1 diabetes research. This figure has since fallen to £3.9m in 2010/11 and £4m in 2011/12.

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