Theresa May is set to be officially confirmed as Britain’s 76th Prime Minister today and will be the first that we know of to have Type 1 diabetes, after being chosen as the Conservative Party leader following David Cameron’s resignation.Theresa May was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2012 after she sought medical attention for sudden weight loss - a classic symptom of the condition along with increased thirst, tiredness and urination. Since her diagnosis she has been very open about her condition and has made it clear that it has had little impact on the demands of her former role as Home Secretary, one of the most high-profile jobs in Government, which she held for six years.
In an interview with Diabetes UK’sBalance magazine in 2014 she said: “I would like the message to get across that it doesn’t change what you can do. The more people can see that people with diabetes can lead a normal life doing the sort of things that other people do, the easier it is for those who are diagnosed with it to deal with it.”
There have been a number of reports in the media that some MPs have questioned May’s suitability for the job because of her Type 1 diabetes. While it is true that May is very likely the first UK Prime Minister, and possibly the first world leader, that we know of to have Type 1 diabetes, suggestions that having Type 1 diabetes means that you are unfit to be Prime Minister are completely untrue and unacceptable.
Type 1 diabetes is a serious health condition but it can be managed effectively with good care and support. It doesn’t change what you can do and people with the condition should have access to the same opportunities as people without the condition, whether that’s becoming Prime Minister, a doctor, teacher or any other job.
There are around 400,000 people in the UK who live with condition, and by making some adjustments to their lifestyles they are able to maintain successful careers and realise their goals and ambitions. Rugby player Chris Pennell, Southend footballer Ben Coker, and Sky News presenter Stephen Dixon are some well-known examples.
"Theresa has helped raise the profile of the condition"
Robin Hewings, Diabetes UK Head of Policy, said: “Since her diagnosis Theresa May has spoken very openly about living with Type 1 diabetes, which has really helped to raise the profile of the condition. Her rise to Prime Minister is a great example how having Type 1 diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back and that you can live life to the full and accomplish your ambitions.”
Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 10 per cent of all adults with diabetes and is treated by daily insulin doses – taken either by injections or via an insulin pump. It is also recommended to follow a healthy diet and take regular physical activity.