Diabetes is a life-long condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to rise too high.
New research global healthcare provider Abbott into the country’s views on diabetes has found 43 per of UK adults can’t tell the two types apart, despite the fact they have significant differences.
Type 1 is when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin by mistake, damaging the pancreas and causing it to be unable to produce insulin and move it out of the bloodstream into cells.
It is often inherited – if you have a close relative with it there’s a six per cent chance you’ll suffer too – and it can cause serious long-term health problems, including blindness, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.
Type 2, on the other hand, is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin – or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin – meaning that glucose stays in the blood and isn’t used as fuel for energy.
This type is commonly associated with obesity and old age, and triggers the same long-term health problems as type 1.
According to the NHS, the second type is the most common, with 90 per cent of diabetes suffers in the UK falling into that category.
Then there’s gestational diabetes – when women experience high levels of blood glucose during pregnancy – and pre-diabetes, the stage below full-blown diabetes when blood sugar is still above the normal range.
Symptoms are similar for any type of diabetes. These include being very thirsty, going to the toilet often, feeling particularly tired and losing lots of weight and muscle.
But being overweight is what 25 per cent of people in the UK think diabetes suffers are, says the research, with 13 per cent believing that they’re unhealthy.
Despite diabetes suffers accounting for 4 million of the population, only three per cent of UK adults feel people with diabetes are “normal”.
Other misconceptions include those surrounding physical activity – one in six people assume that sufferers can’t complete a marathon, and just under a quarter don’t know whether they can exercise at all.
However, 42-year-old Margot Forrest, a part-time lawyer and mum of three from Longniddry, East Lothian, is a type 1 diabetes sufferer who will be running the London Marathon on Sunday for Diabetes UK.
It will be the 20th anniversary of her diagnosis, and she wants to prove her condition doesn’t hold her back having begun to increase her exercise from August last year.
“I like running because it makes me feel good. Even if you don’t want to go out for a run, I always feel better afterwards. I thought my first marathon was an amazing experience and wanted to try again with more fitness,” she said.