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Derek Thomas with Prime Minister David Cameron after he was elected in May
Derek Thomas with Prime Minister David Cameron after he was elected in May

Derek Thomas: Tory MP apologises after claiming diabetes is avoidable 'through good diet and exercise'

The MP for St Ives' comments were branded 'preposterous and extremely hurtful'

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 08 November 2015 10:46
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A Tory MP has apologised after saying diabetes could be avoided "through good diet and exercise".

Derek Thomas, the Conservative MP for St Ives, faced criticism after he wrote a Facebook post marking National Diabetes Awareness Day next week in which he suggested a doctor had told him all types of diabetes could be avoided.

Mr Thomas had misunderstood the nature of the disease - Type 2 diabetes could largely be avoided with lifestyle changes but Type 1 is a lifelong genetic condition that can only be treated with insulin injections.

In a Facebook post, former St Ives MP Andrew George attacked his successor's attitude as "preposterous and extremely hurtful".

The Liberal Democrat, who lost his seat in May, said Mr Thomas' comments were "typical for a Conservative Party which secretly wants to dismantle the NHS and the welfare safety net."

Derek Thomas' original Facebook post - which has since been deleted

Mr Thomas later deleted the post and published a correction.

He said: "I am sincerely sorry for getting this information wrong. My statement was quoting information I had received from two separate medical professionals who are working to address the problem of diabetes.

"I take an important lesson from this, when the Government produce its strategy to tackle diabetes next year as part of a public health agenda, we must be crystal clear that we are seeking to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes."

He summarised the differences between the conditions saying 98 per cent of children diagnosed with the condition had Type 1 diabetes - whereas 90 per cent of adults had Type 2.

He also published a letter from an unnamed constituent with the disease which said: "As a Type 1 diabetic who has suffered with this since the age of 11, I feel it is really important that people in the public eye make this distinction clear.

"I am tired of people making assumptions about my lifestyle (as are many other Type 1 diabetics) when they hear the word diabetes.

"I actually live a very healthy lifestyle; I don't drink or smoke and eat an extremely healthy diet that would probably reverse my diabetes if it was Type 2. Sadly it is not."

Type 1 diabetes is usually first diagnosed in childhood or adolescence and occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin.

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