Diabetes Rising In RI + A Diabetic Teddy Bear

Nov 14, 2013

On this World Diabetes Day, I decided to look into the prevalence of diabetes in Rhode Island and find out whether diagnoses are on the rise. They are, unsurprisingly. Check out this interactive map from the CDC that shows the increase in diabetes rates over time in each Rhode Island county.

There are two types of diabetes - type 2, which is preventable and usually shows up in middle-aged adults; and type 1, which isn't and most often develops in kids and young adults.

Interactive map of diabetes rates by county, over time.
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It may not be surprising that diabetes is on the rise in Rhode Island. But what may be surprising is that type 2 diabetes is on the rise among kids. A clinical nutrition expert from JWU told me that 10 years ago she never saw kids with type 2 diabetes and other kinds of lifestyle-related maladies (like fatty liver). Now they're common.

Check out these additional resources on diabetes from the Rhode Island Dept. of Health.

Imagine managing a chronic disease like diabetes as a kid - or the parent of said kid! Must be very tough. But perhaps this cool Providence tech start-up can help. I just learned about a company called Sproutel that makes toys that help kids cope with chronic disease. Looks like their first product is Jerry the Bear, an interactive teddy bear for kids newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Kids can "feed" Jerry by swiping a little food chip under his nose, check his blood sugar by touching a sensor on his paws, and administer insulin in the ports on his legs. There's a touch screen monitor on his chest that displays his glucose readings. And it looks as though Jerry has kind of a story for kids to follow as they play with him and help him manage his disease. I bet it could be pretty comforting to a kid who has a lot on his or her plate. Sproutel's web site says they're working on developing more toys, including one for kids with asthma.

Speaking of teddy bears, how could I fail to mention the Teddy Bear Clinic that Brown med students are hosting at the Providence Children's Museum tomorrow evening (Friday, Nov. 15), designed to help ease kids' fears about going to the doctor. Cute.