We open a paper, turn on a television and there it is! “Diabetes – the leading cause of blindness, amputations and heart disease!” Or “Diabetes- The lifestyle disease – Lose weight and prevent diabetes today!”
But does the media give the whole picture? Does it give a fair picture? I don’t think it does. The notion that all Type 2 diabetes is a simple condition that requires simple management is misleading at best.
Here are just a few things the media doesn’t tell you.
- Type 1 diabetes has a genetic background with a risk of about 4% in those with a first degree relative (mother, father, sister). However, if you have a first degree relative with Type 2 diabetes, your risk factor is anywhere from 40-60%.
- There is no such thing as a “special” or “diabetic” diet. Just healthy eating that EVERYBODY should do whether they have diabetes or not.
- A poor diet alone does not cause diabetes. Although it may contribute, there are many factors which influence whether a person develops Type 2 diabetes and how it progresses. This includes sleep, pain, illness, medications, stress and genetics.
- Whilst Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or “slowed down” in a small amount those at risk, there is a significant portion of the population who will progress to Type 2 diabetes regardless of diet, exercise and weight control.
- Thin people get Type 2 diabetes too! As do people who exercise regularly and eat well.
- Despite lifestyle changes, up to 60% of people with Type 2 diabetes will require injected insulin in 10 years. This is because Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition and eventually those cells that produce insulin are just too tired.
So why does the media and society portray diabetes so differently? Does it sell papers? Is it designed to motivate? Or are they just misinformed? Would knowing these facts before or when you were diagnosed have changed how you viewed your diabetes?