New research has revealed that less than a third of UK residents (30 per cent) know of type 1 diabetes with a further 59 per cent confusing the autoimmune condition with type 2 diabetes - which can be related to obesity and lack of exercise.
Men are the most uneducated about the condition, with only 28 per cent correctly identifying it compared with 32 per cent of women. Nearly one in ten men think that type 1 diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar whilst nearly six in ten men and women believe that it is related to obesity.
Those aged under 25 have the least awareness with 78 per cent incorrectly identifying the condition whereas those aged 45 to 54 have the highest levels of awareness of type 1 characteristics (36 per cent).
The lack of awareness was discovered by type 1 diabetes charity Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in time for World Diabetes Day (Saturday 14th November) and raises concerns about the understanding of the condition, which is increasing by three per cent each year and more rapidly in under fives.
Type 1 diabetes can strike at at any age and there is currently no cure. Currently approximately 350,000 people in the UK have it including over 25,000 children.
One per cent of people even think that the condition can be caught through physical contact or by sharing a knife and fork.
The results also show that those in the North East of England have the least knowledge of type 1 with 83 per cent incorrectly identifying the condition - and 68 per cent of these associating it with type 2 characteristics. The North West follows with 79 per cent and 67 per cent of confusion respectively.
Top of the class for awareness of type 1 diabetes are residents in Wales where over half (51 per cent) know about the condition, followed by those in Northern Ireland (38 per cent) and residents in the South West with 36 per cent.
To bring this to the Government's attention, JDRF has marked World Diabetes Day 2009 by delivering messages from those affected by type 1 diabetes to the capital in a giant 14ft syringe.
Seven people in the UK will be diagnosed with the condition today and the syringe, which peaks at 10,220 units, represents the number of injections those seven will have to endure in one year just to stay alive.
Initially refused permission at Downing Street security, messages from the 14ft syringe were finally handed over to Number 10 in a blue briefcase, mirroring iconic 'budget briefcase' scenes.
The majority of the messages collected from those affected by the condition
(57 per cent) call for the Government to increase its focus on type 1 diabetes research and support JDRF's commitment to finding the cure.
Further messages call for increased provision of insulin pumps across the UK and more training for schools in dealing with children affected by the condition.
Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, the world's leading charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research said: "Our research highlights some alarming issues into the public's misunderstanding of type 1 diabetes - and especially the lack of awareness in the under 25 age group where the condition is most commonly diagnosed.
"It is also clear that there are some very large regional disparities in the level of awareness. People far too often confuse the condition with type 2 diabetes and its associations with obesity and lifestyle issues - factors which play no part in developing type 1.
Insulin is not the cure for type 1 diabetes, it just keeps people alive. JDRF asks the Government to act to support for our global research programme and help us cure this serious autoimmune condition."
tagged in Diabetes