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6 April 2005 PR 05/27

University secretary raising profile of diabetes

A Loughborough University secretary is hoping to raise the profile of diabetes by entering a fitness modelling competition.

Kathryn Latham, 28, was diagnosed with Type One, or Juvenile, Diabetes at the age of nine. And after living with the condition for almost 20 years Kathryn wants to try and dispel some of the common misconceptions people have about it.

To show people that diabetics can live perfectly normal and healthy lives she is entering a competition to find a fitness model. The competition, called FAME, is the first of its kind to be held in the UK after very successful shows in the USA and Canada. It is looking for people with fit, athletic physiques and is open to both males and females.

Kathryn, who works in the University’s Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, said: “After my diagnoses my life changed dramatically. I was a kid who now had to learn about nutrition and exercise, test my blood sugar levels up to seven times a day and regularly inject myself with insulin. Basically I had to be a lot more responsible. If I didn’t the consequences could be life threatening.

Kathryn wants to dispel some of the misconceptions people have about diabetics.

Photograph courtesy of Kathryn Latham

“When I tell people I’m diabetic, they automatically think I must be unwell and form a negative image of me. I am entering this competition to show that diabetes doesn’t need to be a hindrance, and to try and portray a positive image of people living with the condition. My diabetes doesn’t stop me from doing the things 'normal' people do.”

Type One Diabetes is a genetic autoimmune disorder that usually strikes children. Type Two Diabetes, which has been mentioned a lot in the media recently due to a worldwide increase, is caused by changes in lifestyle or genetics.

When Kathryn was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes doctors recommended taking regular exercise as this can greatly reduce the risk of complications, such as eye or kidney disease. Since then Kathryn’s exercise has turned into a passion. To prepare for the FAME contest she has embarked on a gruelling training programme and strict diet.

Kathryn added: “I really believe that there needs to be more positive diabetic role models. Most of the time the media tend to focus on the negative aspects of diabetes and I am sure others with the condition that see these kind of news stories feel as though there is no hope. I want to try and make a difference by promoting a positive image. Diabetes really is about control, the condition can control you or you can control the condition.”

The FAME competition, which is sponsored by the World Natural Sports Organisation, is being held at the NEC Birmingham on 23 April.


For further information contact:

Notes to editors

  1. Kathryn is available for interviews/photographs. To organise this please contact Judy Smyth.

  2. For a copy of the photograph featured on the website please contact Judy Smyth.

  3. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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