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05/06/13 09:40

Teaching children about diabetes

Education programme to reach more schools.

More children in Scottish schools will be taught the science behind a healthy lifestyle and the possible risks of developing type 2 diabetes in later life as a successful education programme is expanded.

The Live for It scheme, delivered by Diabetes UK Scotland and Edinburgh International Science Festival is set to be expanded with the support of Scottish Government funding announced today ahead of Diabetes week (9-15 June).

The interactive programme shows primary and secondary students how leading a healthy lifestyle now can pay off for the future and help prevent type 2 Diabetes, which now affects over 217,000 Scots.

Visiting Balgreen Primary School, who participate in the programme, Health Secretary Alex Neil said:

“Diabetes is a growing problem for Scotland as the number of people with type 2 diabetes continues to rise. That is why we must ensure that people do all that they can to help reduce their risk of developing the disease, which can bring many complications and serious health problems.

“This programme is a great example of how we can tackle the underlying risk factors by teaching children how healthy eating and being active can have a positive impact on their long term health.

“Eating better and taking regular exercise is something we can all do to make sure we are as healthy as possible.

This is even more important as preventative measures like this will help tackle the disease and ease the pressure and costs faced by our health service well into the future.”

Jane-Claire Judson National Director of Diabetes UK Scotland said:

“One third of children are overweight or obese in Scotland and the impact on the nation’s future health has never been far from the public’s attention. Being overweight or obese is a key risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Now with the support of Scottish Government we are able to bring information about leading a healthy lifestyle directly to the classroom.

“By working with Edinburgh International Science Festival we are hoping to give students the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to make decisions about how to lead a healthy lifestyle. There are also almost 2000 children under the age of 14 living with type 1 diabetes in Scotland and this project will also try to improve knowledge of the challenges school students face when they have diabetes.”

Simon Gage, Director of the Science Festival said: “We are delighted to be running the Live for It! Challenge at Balgreen Primary this year.

“Live for It! in a similar way to our schools outreach programme Generation Science, uses science communicators to deliver inspiring, fun and educational workshops which give students access to the skills and information they need to make choices for change and protect their health now and in the future.

“We are looking forward to this year's tour and working closely with Diabetes UK Scotland on the delivery of this inspirational and successful project.”

Danni Cochrane, now 23 was diagnoses with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12. Talking about how it affected her life as a teenager, she said:

“Being diagnosed with diabetes can never come at a good time for anybody. For me, it struck just as I was starting high school. Instead of making new friends and concentrating on my homework, I was faced with the constant urge for a drink and worrying where the nearest toilet was. I wanted to put my diabetes to the back of my mind, and wanted to be like everyone else.”

Things became easier when Danni got help from a diabetes team. She said: “They were brilliant and helped me and my parents learn all that we needed to know about diabetes and get started with managing the condition.”

However it wasn’t until Danni completed her degree in Sport and Exercise Science Danni and considered a Masters in Public Health Nutrition that she began to think about her own health.

She said: “I started making healthy changes to my diet and lifestyle. I made the effort to plan my weekly shops and buy healthy ingredients which I could cook with. By doing this I was getting better blood glucose control, better results at university and had more energy. I also exercise regularly and try to keep as fit as possible – something that I do sometimes struggle with because of my diabetes.

“Controlling my diabetes does takes effort but I have made the choice to do so and I am now living my life the way I want to.”

Notes to editors

  • Diabetes Week runs from 9-15 June.
  • The Scottish Government is committing £20,000 for the expansion of the Live for It programme, in addition to £20,000 provided in 2012.
  • Each school participates in four 90 minute sessions during which students explore topics including, diet, cooking, digestion, diabetes and how the body uses energy.

  • The programme comprises three interactive workshops
    • Eat for it! – where students go on a journey through the digestive system
    • Go for It! – where they test blood glucose and learn how our bodies convert food into energy
    • Cook for It! – all about eating a balanced diet and making healthy food choices. The final session

  • The diabetes survey states that there are 247,278 people diagnosed with diabetes in Scotland, of which 88% (217,514) have type 2 diabetes. There are also over 3000 children with type 1 diabetes in Scotland.

  • The programme is facilitated through the Curriculum for Excellence, which recognises the positive impact physical education can have on a pupil's health, educational attainment and life chances.