Kitty, 13: I'm sick of people thinking my diabetes is due to an unhealthy lifestyle
A TEENAGE diabetes sufferer says she is sick of people thinking her condition is a result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
Kitty Benton, 13, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 7 and must inject insulin daily ever since as her body cannot produce its own.
For the past year, this has been via an insulin pump, a device about the size of a pack of cards which is worn around the stomach and sends insulin into the body through a thin tube.
But the pupil at William Farr School in Welton, near Lincoln, says young diabetics, who usually have more challenges with their health than non-diabetic children, face an additional burden as there is a common misconception with the illness.
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A growing number of people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and this has been partly blamed on the country's obesity epidemic.
But where there is a correlation between type 2 diabetes and weight, type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed at a younger age and is not linked to having an unhealthy lifestyle.
There is a genetic disposition to type 1 diabetes and it can be triggered by a virus.
Kitty, who lives in Nettleham, said: "Some children with type 1 diabetes are already being bullied by people saying it's their own fault they have got it and they deserve it.
"This is not true and nobody deserves to have type 1 diabetes and the daily injections and complications it involves.
"Sometimes the insulin can make you put on weight and because you're not skinny people think you've brought it on yourself.
"I think people should distinguish between the two and I've even written to Panorama about this, but they haven't replied yet."
Kitty's mum, Joanna Benton, 45, says she is proud of how her daughter manages her type 1 diabetes.
Mrs Benton said: "Diabetes has become high-profile in the news and Kitty does not want confusion between the two types.
"Having the insulin pump has made a big difference and she is good at remembering to change the cannula every few days.
"She just gets on with it and it is part of her life now."
Dr David Baker, Lincolnshire representative for the British Medical Association, said: "There is nothing this 13-year-old girl could have done to prevent type 1 diabetes.
"Type 1 diabetes typically affects the young and the cause is the pancreas failing for whatever reason so insulin is not produced.
"It is not the same as type 2 diabetes, which tends to affect fat middle-aged people and that is where the body produces insulin, but develops a resistance to its own insulin.
"The pancreas then works doubly hard to produce enough insulin and cannot cope and fails.
"They are two separate diseases, but in neither condition is the body able to metabolise sugars in the way it should do."