News Show Mixes Up Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes


An Australian morning news show failed to distinguish between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes during a televised debate, despite the word “diabetes” being invoked five times in the less-than-four-minute segment. The Channel 7 show Sunrise held a debate on the air between two commentators about whether the Australian government should impose a tax on sugary drinks. The subject arose after an Australian National University study found that the risk of Type 2 diabetes increased with the amount of sugary drinks consumed.

Absent from the debate, however, were the words “Type”, “1”, and “2”. Host Samantha Armytage mentioned diabetes three times, commentator Chris Smith mentioned it once, and a graphic under the talking heads read, “Sugary drinks increase diabetes risk irrespective of weight.” Commentator Nick McCallum avoided the word altogether; we can only hope it was because he knew the difference between the two types of diabetes. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

If the video does not play, you can view it here: 

For the record, the study that was used as the backdrop for this muddled debate did make the distinction between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. The researchers studied 40,000 adults in Thailand and found that the more sugary drinks were consumed, the risk of Type 2 diabetes increased. That heightened risk was independent of other risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, including weight gain and obesity.

Look, I’m not one to jump on every Facebook poster who fails to make a distinction between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, but if you’re a news person and you’re doing a whole segment on a study about Type 2 diabetes, it doesn’t seem too much to ask for you to mention the type of diabetes being discussed at least once. You can even do it five times, just to be on the safe side.

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.

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