World Diabetes Day, and more – by Barbara Young


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Barbara Young This year World Diabetes Day was bigger and better than ever. Not only did lots of buildings from No 10 Downing Street to Neasden Temple turn blue to help raise awareness of the condition, but there was such a buzz around World Diabetes Day that its hashtag even trended on Twitter.

For us at Diabetes UK, the main focus of the day was the launch of our campaign to improve understanding of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes – the 4 Ts. Just nine per cent of parents are able to correctly identify that frequently urinating, excessive thirst, extreme tiredness, and unexplained weight loss are all symptoms of the condition. So we have developed the concept of the 4 Ts of Type 1 diabetes: Toilet; Thirsty; Tired; Thinner.

The idea is that by putting the symptoms into a catchy format, they will be easier to remember. This is vital because a quarter of children who develop Type 1 diabetes are already seriously ill with the life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis (caused by a build-up of poisonous ketones in the body) by the time they are diagnosed. Our campaign is also giving parents the message that because onset of Type 1 diabetes is quick, they need to insist on a test as soon as their child has any of the symptoms.

We are also working with healthcare professionals to ensure they understand how important it is for it to be diagnosed as soon as possible. Tragically, we still hear stories of children with undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes being told by their GP that it is probably a virus and they should come back if symptoms persist.

This needs to end.

We had some great coverage for the launch of our campaign, including articles in the national press and interviews with both the pop singer Amelia Lily and me on Daybreak on ITV1. The campaign launch was also amazingly popular on Facebook and Twitter, as people shared what is a potentially lifesaving message with their followers.

Hopefully, all this means there are many more parents who now understand what they need to do if their child has any of the symptoms. That could stop so many children becoming really sick and could even save lives! You can see just some of what happened on the day in our interactive image below.

We had a great time with our Council for People with Diabetes on Saturday. They are really helpful in ensuring we understand what people with diabetes want and what is happening out there in the real world.

And on Sunday, a glorious autumn day, I walked the 12 Bridges across the Thames (8.5 miles) and raised over £2,000 for Diabetes UK. I planned lots of tweeting and video pieces but eventually decided I would trip over if I did them on the run, but the photo below shows me with one of our volunteers at the end – looking not bad in spite of my aching hips…

Six hundred other terrific supporters of Diabetes UK walked, including our very own Vice-Chairman, Julian Baust, and his wife. We were all waved off by Richard Lane our president. Huge thanks to all who took part. You can read a little about what happened in Kayleigh’s wonderful blog about the day that she shared with us.

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