Diabetes education in school – by Helen Whitehouse


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I often think to myself, when I absent mindedly flick through science and cookery text books in school, really how little people actually understand about the subject of diabetes…

For example; a few months ago, before the summer holidays, we had to do a bit of cookery coursework. So I’m sat there with a very chunky cookery criteria book, looking through it as you do, when I come across some proposed “exam ideas”. I.e “prepare dishes suitable for diabetics- must be low in sugar, low in fat”.

Really?! I assumed that dishes low in sugar and fat would be part of a healthy diet, something which the majority of the population probably should follow? Lets be realistic however – we all have those days of eating a slight amount of junk food, its human nature. Simply because we are diabetic, does not mean we cannot consume sugar, or sugary items.

Its not the 1950s, things have moved on. But then, I come to think that this is what is wrong with the education system. A good amount of my friends assumed I had first got diabetes because “I had eaten too many sweets”, simply because of naivity. I have to say, as a youth of eight or nine, I would have probably assumed the same thing before my diagnosis.

This proves my point further. Why are we not taught about something that really is part of modern life more than we are?! Something which really brings my point home is that when doing a lesson about diabetes in science last year, my teacher literally got me to explain it simply because he had no idea. This is in a year ten science lesson – a GCSE science lesson… Why do people not know basic facts?

It seems to me that in a modern time in which we have whole timetabled lessons dedicated to social standard and citizenship, we should also be learning things that will one day affect us either directly or indirectly. Do you agree?

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My son last year in his GCSE lesson, was taught about diabetes, the tutor was unaware that he was diabetic and sent him out of class for being disruptive when he told him he wrong in facts that teacher was giving to class. In the end the head of year intervened and my son was listen too at last. Diabetes awareness should be taught from a young age to wipe out the stigma attached to diabetes. Its only now that he is in his last year that his peer group has started to accept his diagnosis.

Hi Helen,

I totally agree. I had the exact same circumstance at secondary school also, I had to explain to the class about diabetes. The ‘I had eaten too many sweets’ statement also is one irritates me. For a condition that is in the news an awful lot, there is not enough facts floating around about it.

Also the exam for your cookery class, I should think this is possibly an old exam that has been used again for your year, hence the outdated diabetes info. Only up until I did the DAFNE course, I tended not to eat sugary foods.