Teal Pumpkins and Kids with Type 1

How a social media campaign about food allergies might help children with Type 1 diabetes enjoy Halloween.



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Each October, people seem to decorate their homes with more and more spooky scenes, but there’s a new decoration that may put some trick-or-treat cheer into small ghouls and zombies with Type 1 diabetes this Halloween: teal pumpkins.

The Food Allergy Research and Education center has launched a campaign for homes to display teal-painted pumpkins to offer non-food trick-or-treat goodies. Some 5 million people have viewed the campaign’s webpage, and the campaign has garnered major press coverage and social media buzz.

While the campaign was designed primarily to help children with life-threatening food allergies at Halloween, news reports have expanded the focus of the campaign to include children with Type 1 diabetes, as well. Thus, the Type 1 diabetes community finds itself in the position of being lumped together with people with similar, but not the same, conditions. Usually, Type 1 gets a throw-in mention when people discuss Type 2 diabetes; this time, it’s food allergies.

Type 1 diabetes is not an allergy, per say, unless you want to frame it that the body happens to be allergic to its own pancreas. A potential pitfall of expanding the campaign to include diabetes could also encourage the mistaken belief that children with Type 1 “can’t” ever eat sweets, which could lead to hurt feelings at future birthday parties. And what would really make children with diabetes (and food allergies) feel welcome would be if people were to shift away from candy-heavy offerings, in general, instead of having a “special” bowl for those who ask.

Still, a mass campaign that raises awareness that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to children’s diets is certainly a public victory for the many families whose children are dealing with rare conditions, including Type 1 diabetes. If this catches on, it might help dissipate the stigma some feel growing up with Type 1, and make Halloween a more inclusive holiday. And while it would be great if the Type 1 diabetes community came up with a viral Halloween campaign of its own, at least teal pumpkins look blue at night.

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Craig Idlebrook is chief editor for Insulin Nation and Información Sobre Diabetes, and was founding editor for Type 2 Nation. You can reach him at cidlebrook@selfrx.com.