Theresa May, former Prime Minister with type 1 diabetes

Theresa May revealed that adrenaline surge during Prime Minister’s Questions would cause spikes in her blood sugar levels.

May was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in her 50s and initially expressed disbelief based on her age.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, May stated that better support for people with type 1 diabetes from the NHS was required.

May learned to manage her blood sugar levels, influenced primarily by diet and exercise, with daily insulin injections. 

During her tenure as Prime Minister, Theresa May would instruct her staff to fetch Jelly Babies to counteract the effects of low blood glucose levels as the result of type 1 diabetes, a condition May was diagnosed within 2013.

Despite challenges, Lady May emphasised that the condition should not hinder individuals from pursuing their goals.

May also commended Health Secretary Victoria Atkins who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child.

May praised the advancements in artificial pancreas technology, anticipating improved management of the condition for many on the NHS.

Artificial pancreas technology utilises a subcutaneous glucose sensor to calculate insulin delivery through a pump.

Type 1 diabetes and eating disorders

May chaired a parliamentary inquiry into the life-threatening consequences of having both type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder, highlighted the significant issue of type 1 disordered eating (T1DE).

Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the body’s pancreas is unable to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Unlike type 2 diabetes which is often linked to lifestyle factors, type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood and is not preventable.

T1DE involves individuals restricting insulin intake to control weight, leading to unstable blood-sugar levels, malnutrition and an elevated risk of depression and anxiety

Who is Teresa May?

Theresa May served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2016 to 2019.

May was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2013 and is an ambassador for the JDRF.

Her tenure in politics saw her hold several prominent positions, including Home Secretary, before ascending to the highest office in the country.

May’s leadership was marked by significant challenges, including navigating the complex Brexit negotiations.

Estimates suggest that T1DE could affect up to 40% of females and 15% of males with type 1 diabetes.

The inquiry highlighted the urgent need for increased awareness, mental health support and a cohesive NHS approach to address the unique challenges faced by those with type 1 and an eating disorder.

“It can be a frightening and lonely experience, isolating people from their loved ones,” May said.

“If you’re experiencing symptoms, you’re not alone.”

Speaking to BBC News, May said “When I first heard about it… I was horrified.”

NHS England is conducting pilot schemes in 8 locations where it is combining diabetes and eating-disorder support.

Patients using these services are shown to recover quicker from T1DE yet there is uncertainty over future funding.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Type 2 diabetes found to be a ‘significant risk factor’ among stroke victims

More evidence has been published which supports that diabetes is a “significant…

Twice daily dairy intakes could reduce type 2 diabetes risk

Eating cheese, yoghurt or eggs twice a day could help lower the…

Public Health England considers low carb approach for type 2 diabetes

The low carb approach is being considered by the government to be…