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March 7, 2011

Ideas, Ideals, and Innovation in the History of Diabetes

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Division of General Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(3):195-196. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.7

What a difference a century makes. In 1911 when a child was diagnosed with diabetes, the prognosis of life expectancy was typically measured in hours, days, or at most, weeks. Treatment was widely viewed as futile. By 1920, several dietary therapies had been developed including, most famously, the so-called starvation dietary regimen promoted by Frederick Allen, MD. While each diet advocated different proportions of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, all of them greatly restricted the intake of calories, so much so that the children who adhered to any of these diets and lived for months or perhaps a few years became greatly emaciated.

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