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Emmerdale and portraying Type 1 diabetes

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Diabetes UK have spoken with the production team on Emmerdale following an unrealistic plotline featuring a character with Type 1 diabetes.

The character, Kerry Wyatt, got drunk, accidentally trapped herself in a chocolate factory, and then drank an extra half bottle of whisky while eating a lot of chocolate.

At no point was the character’s diabetes mentioned, and there was no sign that she had any insulin or testing equipment with her. She woke up the next morning still locked in the factory with a hangover but no other ill effects or references to her condition.

Several supporters contacted Diabetes UK after the episode aired on 14 November.

Reckless behaviour 

Libby Dowling, Senior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “Eating a lot of chocolate can raise your blood glucose levels, while drinking alcohol – especially in the volumes shown on screen – will cause them to drop severely. We can’t say for sure what the effects of the character’s actions would be, but what we do know is that this was reckless behaviour and there would likely be serious medical consequences, potentially even leading to unconsciousness.

“We would have liked the episode to have acknowledged her diabetes and made clear how risky her behaviour was and we are looking for an answer from Emmerdale on whether they researched this plot.”

A spokesperson for Emmerdale said: “Kerry is known for breaking all the rules and is clearly mismanaging her diabetes. She's a law unto herself and is an example of how not to manage your diabetes without serious repercussions to your health. Please don't take risks like Kerry as her lifestyle will eventually begin to impact and have consequences. She comes with a health warning. We're grateful to Diabetes UK and its supporters for pointing out that Kerry can't continue to behave this way.”

The spokesperson added that Kerry had testing equipment and insulin in her handbag, although there was no reference to this in the programme.

Last year Diabetes UK advised Emmerdale on showing diabetes realistically on screen, although the resulting episodes showeda very extreme example of retinopathy. Diabetes UK has not been contacted by the show about Kerry’s diabetes since then.

Diabetes UK earlier this year produceda guide for TV fiction writersand looks to support TV programmes in ensuring diabetes is realistically portrayed on screen.

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