I’m not going to get into the details aside from saying a well-known ‘fitness’ company put out a parody graphic equating sugary beverages to diabetes. It was wrong. It was inaccurate. It was insensitive. It perpetuates the misinformation and stigma often related to diabetes. The diabetes online community was quick to react with a combination of anger and education. Sadly the company made the situation worse by suggesting they meant only one type of diabetes, not all types. It was not an apology and honestly made things worse due to increased misinformation and insults. It has also been written about by many much smarter and more articulate than myself. My post isn’t intended to educate people about diabetes, nor is it a call to action to send further tweets, letters, and FB comments to the fitness company. My post is a plea to all people with diabetes and those who love someone with diabetes to stand together.
If you are reading this you are likely already familiar with the large online presence of people with diabetes. While I don’t know the exact percentages of those who participate in the community that have Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes or Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA) – it has been suggested that the community is largely made up of people with Type 1 diabetes or parents of children with Type 1 diabetes. I’m not sure I entirely agree since many of those that I hold most dear are people with Type 2 or LADA and I met them via the DOC. Still the majority of the backlash towards the fitness company came from people with Type 1 and parents of children with diabetes and thus were heavily sided toward defending Type 1, sometimes at the expense of those with Type 2 or LADA. (I am ashamed to admit that my first tweet to the company also included a remark that said my 3 kids with Type 1 did not cause their diabetes)
I can’t speak for all parents of CWD but I can say “I’m sorry” to all my friends throughout the community. Again I can’t speak for all but I would be willing to bet the majority of those that only mentioned how Type 1 is not caused by sugar (Including Nick Jonas who told the fitness company to know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2) did not intentionally perpetuate the inaccurate portrayal of sugar causing Type 2 diabetes or that people with Type 2 or LADA caused their own disease.
I know that as a parent of cwd our first instinct is to educate the ignorant companies and individuals who lump all people with diabetes into one category and insinuate that they all caused their own diabetes by an unhealthy diet. For many of us when our child is diagnosed we are hypersensitive to all the general diabetes comments. Our instinct is to defend our children (and ourselves as their parents) against the never-ending misconceptions that we or our kids did something wrong to cause diabetes. That is good – we should be hypersensitive and should advocate and educate but not at the expense of our brothers and sisters in the diabetes world. While advocating and educating please don’t toss one type of diabetes under the bus.
All people with diabetes face the same health concerns, threat of complications, excessive cost burdens for testing supplies and prescriptions. All PWD think about their food choices at every meal and snack. Diabetes is a 24/7/365 disease regardless of the type. Diabetes often effects all members of a family regardless of who in the family has diabetes. PWD can and do all things that people without diabetes can do. People with diabetes come in all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, and fitness levels. We are the same. Standing together will benefit all.
Next time you read something or hear something that is inaccurate such as “sugar equals diabetes” and want to respond please consider leaving out the Type when you educate, and simply say “sugar does Not cause diabetes.”
There are enough opportunities to educate without increasing the misconceptions of any type of diabetes.
No matter your Type – if you have diabetes (or care for someone with diabetes) you’re my type. Solidarity=progress for all.