One of the common frustrations for people with diabetes is the lack of understanding about the difference between type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). T1D is an autoimmune disease which affects as many as 3 million Americans, is not caused by diet or lifestyle, and cannot be prevented. T2D, on the other hand, is a metabolic disorder that affects more than 18 million Americans, and may be associated with obesity or a sedentary lifestyle.
A recent study conducted by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health suggests diabetes could affect education and earning potential for young people with the disease. The study, published in the journal Health Affairs did not distinguish between subjects with T1D and T2D. Since there are differences between T1D and T2D and the populations they affect, it is unclear whether the economic impact identified in the study would be the same for T1D and T2D. By not differentiating between the two, the study may also create misconceptions about people with T1D. Comments on articles reporting on the study display the frustration of the T1D community.
In the study, researchers followed 15,000 people from high school through their early 30s during a fourteen year period and identified a number of disparities in educational and financial achievement. These disparities include a higher high school dropout and unemployment rate for people with diabetes, as well as a lower lifetime earning potential as compared to people without the disease. Since these findings are preliminary and do not differentiate between T1D and T2D, further studies would be needed to determine whether people with T1D are at a true economic disadvantage.
JDRF places a strong emphasis on correcting T1D misconceptions and supports people with T1D in coping with the physical and emotional aspects of the disease at the same time as dealing with daily living issues such as school and employment. Although the disease presents obstacles, people and families with T1D continue to provide inspiration by facing the daily challenges associated with the disease and not letting it stand in the way of obtaining their career, educational and personal goals.
The study collected data at four different times. Only the fourth collected information on diabetes. It was self reported and 2/3 of those who self reported were over 18 at Dx.