A new survey conducted by JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) found 46 per cent of Australians with type 1 have felt bullied or have felt excluded from activities, despite more than 90 per cent being open about their disease in an attempt to increase public understanding.

The findings, released today ahead of WDD (14 Nov), reveal the challenges Australians with type 1 diabetes face due to stigmas attached to the disease, and highlight the importance of tackling these misunderstandings head on.JDRF CEO Mike Wilson said it’s concerning almost half of people with type 1 diabetes have experienced some form of social exclusion on the basis of living with a non-preventable lifelong chronic disease.

“The survey findings cement the negative and insensitive comments people with type 1 are so often subject to. Negative experiences about type 1 diabetes, especially for children and teenagers, can have incredibly harmful effects on them and their disease management,” Mr Wilson said.

The survey found the most common community misunderstandings of type 1 diabetes are:

• People bring it upon themselves by eating too much sugar
• People develop type 1 as a result of living an unhealthy lifestyle or by being overweight
• The person’s parents gave them too many sweets as a child.

This is despite the fact that type 1 diabetes is a non-preventable chronic disease for which the cause it not fully known. Importantly, factors such as diet, weight and lifestyle do not contribute to developing the disease.

Diabetes NSW CEO Sturt Eastwood said the findings were disappointing and that stigma was a huge problem for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

“Feeling stigmatised can trigger a chain reaction. It can influence how you feel about yourself and how you behave. Importantly, it can impact on your diabetes self-care and eventually your physical health,” warned Mr Eastwood. “Fortunately, events such as World Diabetes Day, give us the opportunity to raise awareness and increase public knowledge about diabetes which in turn helps de-stigmatise the condition.”

Tomorrow Diabetes NSW will be celebrating World Diabetes Day by presenting its most prestigious award – the Sir Kempson Maddox award – to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding service and commitment to the diabetes community. The day will also see the Kellion Victory Awards presented to eight Diabetes NSW members who have lived with type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more. In addition it will be officially launching its Ambassador Program. The program aims to increase the public understanding of diabetes through the voice of the ambassadors – real people living with diabetes who want to support and inspire others in the community, particularly the newly diagnosed.