To the Editor:
Your Nov. 8, 2006, Health Update item “NIH Study of Children Aimed at Preventing Juvenile Diabetes” is confusing and misleading. The piece mixes up juvenile—or type 1—diabetes with type 2 diabetes (which previously was known as adult-onset diabetes).
Juvenile or type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. People with juvenile or type 1 diabetes must take insulin to survive. At this time, there is no way to prevent this type of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin, or insulin is not used efficiently. Type 2 diabetes is closely associated with obesity.
Since your news item is on a study examining whether changes in school food and physical education classes can help prevent diabetes, I believe it is referring to type 2 diabetes occurring in young people. Juvenile diabetes is an entirely different disease.
A version of this article appeared in the December 06, 2006 edition of Education Week as Clarifying the Two Types Of Childhood Diabetes