Media releases

May 13, 2004

Jelly Babies give hope for a cure

Medibank Private's 102 retail stores across Australia are joining the fight to cure diabetes by helping the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) raise money for its annual Jelly Baby Appeal.

Each year the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) raises much-needed funds through its Jelly Baby Appeal, an event that is proudly supported by Medibank Private.

Juvenile Diabetes is now one of the most common chronic diseases in children, occurring more often than cancer, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy combined.

Jelly babies are often consumed by those with Type 1 diabetes as a quick sugar fix when their blood sugar level falls critically low.

Medibank Private Managing Director, George Savvides, says the 37% increase in Type 1 (juvenile diabetes) cases over the last 10 years is alarming.

"There are now over 140,000 children and adults in Australia with this dangerous and potentially fatal disease, reason enough for us to all take action to prevent the further onset of diabetes.

"We need to gain a better understanding of why this rate is increasing, and why the most alarming increase is in children under 5 years of age, where the number of children diagnosed has doubled in the last five years," Mr Savvides said.

Type 1 diabetes is the most serious form of diabetes. A life-long 'auto-immune' disease, the body's immune system turns on itself, destroying the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas and removing the body's ability to produce insulin. It usually begins in childhood or early adulthood, although it can occur at any age.

The Chief Executive Officer of the JDRF, Sheila Royles says Type 1 diabetes is highly misunderstood.

"Some of the myths we often encounter is that it is caused when children eat too much sugar and don't exercise, that children 'grow out of it', that it is the same as diabetes in adults and that insulin is a cure. Nothing could be further from the truth," she said.

Medibank Private retail centres and corporate offices throughout Australia are selling bags of jelly babies for $2 during the month of May with all funds raised going toward the JDRF Jelly Baby Appeal.

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