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August 21, 2002

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from :

My 16 year old granddaughter developed supposedly "juvenile diabetes" at age 14 (appeared abnormally tired at times and abnormal urination schedule for her) with a blood glucose of 300 mg/dl [16.7 mmol/L]. She is five feet ten inches tall, 135 pounds, eleventh grader, good student, and plays field and ice hockey, lacrosse, and more. She has been a vegetarian from a very young age (her own choosing) and an avid grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and cheese and broccoli consumer. She also eats some fruits, and cereals and drinks orange juice. Her father purchases Diet Coke, pretzels, and candy which she partakes of. Can I have your views?


I am uncertain what the question you are asking. You seem to imply that you question the diagnosis with your use of “supposedly juvenile diabetes”.

Can vegetarians develop type 1 diabetes? Of course. Does the dietary practice predispose to this? Likely not. Is the diagnosis accurate? Presumably they would know this as it has been two years now.

Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

I am not sure I understand your concern, but you might be wondering if she is too thin or is eating correctly. My first thought is that I wonder what her blood glucose control is. I do not know if the father will want to share that information with you, but basically if the blood glucose control is acceptable to the girl’s diabetes team, she is growing as she should be, and her diet is basically okay, then we do not rock the boat.

If however, there are some problems with growth, blood glucoses, or a very poor diet, her team should intervene. Actually, being a vegetarian is fine with the diabetes, one just needs to be sure to get in plenty of iron-rich foods. It looks like she does consume milk and milk products, so that is good for her protein and calcium intakes. Also, as far as her growth, we would look at where she has been in the past and how that tracks with her current weight and height.

I am glad you are trying to help sort out what is best for your grandchild.