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May 13, 2000

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Wisconsin, USA:

I am 14 and I have over 50% chance of getting diabetes. Is there anyway that I can take a test to know for sure? Also, if I change my diet to a diabetic diet can that help me not to get diabetes?


From: DTeam Staff

I wonder where you got the figure of 50%: if you have a brother or sister or a mother or father with Type 1 diabetes the figure is much nearer to 5%. You might talk to your doctor about this and if you decide that the risk is still significant you could ask about an antibody test which would be a good measure for the commonest form of diabetes in your age group. You could call 1-800-425-8361 for more information.

In the meantime, a sensible ordinary diet that doesn’t encourage abnormal weight gain and plenty of exercise, whilst healthy generally, will not indefinitely defer autoimmune diabetes.

Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

I wonder if the writer is referring to a high chance of type 2 diabetes if both parents have the disease. That is a whole different issue. A sensible diet and activity program is essential for both types of diabetes, but may actually be preventive for those overweight and with a family history of type 2 (therefore prone to develop type 2 diabetes). Also, there is really no “diabetic diet”; meal plans must be individualized to the person’s needs.