Please Don’t Imply That I Caused My Diabetes.

| Mar 8, 2012

When it comes to diabetes, people often blame the patient instead of the disease. I cannot think of another chronic illness for which this is the case. Much of the public seems to believe that we bring diabetes on ourselves. When people with diabetes are diagnosed with complications, uninformed observers often insist that it happened because they were "bad diabetics." Comments like "She didn't take care of herself" make me instantly defensive and angry. How can anyone know what that person went through on a day-to-day basis with her diabetes?

To promote diabetes awareness, a hospital where I once worked posted an ad on a giant television in the cafeteria. Awareness for diabetes--I should be thrilled, right? Unfortunately, the ad simply showed a picture of an apple and a donut, with a forbidding line drawn through the donut. The unspoken implication was that eating donuts causes diabetes.

This sort of advertising makes the public more confused about diabetes than ever. I worried that viewers would conclude that an unhealthy diet led to my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes as a teenager. One coworker later confessed that she did in fact think that a poor diet was the culprit behind my diagnosis. The truth is, however, that although I ate healthfully growing up and rarely had a donut, my diet had nothing to do with my diagnosis.

The reality is that diabetes can strike anyone at any age. Genetics plays a large role in both types of diabetes, and neither type is caused solely by poor nutrition. The cafeteria ad simply wasn't fair or accurate. Instead, it just fueled the blame game.

I'd love for diabetes to get more press time, but it needs to be both accurate and fair. Increasing awareness of the true facts could lead not only to more funding and research, but also to less shame for people living with any type of diabetes, as well as more compassion and less judgment from the nondiabetic community.

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Categories: Blame Game, Blame the Patient, Bring Diabetes on Ourselves, Diabetes, Diabetes, Diabetes Awareness, Genetics, Increasing Awareness, Nondiabetic Community, Type 1, Type 1 Issues, Unhealthy Diet, Uninformed Observers


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Comments

Posted by Bluefox on 8 March 2012

I couldn't agree more. More 14 year old type 1 daughter suffers from the people around her every day. The comments I get are " do you feel guilty you fed her all that junk and made her sick" or just the other day a sport teacher said to her after finding out she was diabetic in front of the class " wow you are so skinny your not overweight at all you look so healthy" she gets so angry with these comments. I think a big problem is advertising it's all negative.

Posted by mandygorven on 13 March 2012

I got Type I diabetes at age 31 -I was very slim, on a macrobiotic diet for nearly 2 years, and did lots of walking in the country. Everyone always asks me if I ate lots of sweets, and I always say almost every woman would have Type I Diabetes if that were the cause!

Posted by Anonymous on 13 March 2012

I see that two of the comments here already play the blame game, shaming Type 2s and saying, "oh, my kid's not one of *those*. *Those* people are the bad diabetics who brought it on themselves." First of all, we are as deserving of being called "people with diabetes" instead of seeing us as only a disease as any Type 1 is, and secondly, we didn't bring diabetes on ourselves either. Genetics plays a large role in Type 2 as well as Type 1. I think the blame game needs to stop all the way around and that the public should be educated in the fact that no person caused their own diabetes.

Posted by Anonymous on 13 March 2012

I agree with this article.
However, have a look at the cartoon on the email that accompanied this article - a person on a treadmill motivated by a candy cane. I've grown to try to avoid looking at the cartoons posted by Diabetes Health.

Posted by Anonymous on 13 March 2012

Type 1 Diabetes needs to be renamed. Associations with Type 2 diabetes are inevitable, thanks largely to the media (cafeteria sign case example above) or lack of education in the general public. Auto-immune diabetes may be a better choice of name because I think any kind of wide-spread educational campaign will be pretty useless at this point. Also, celebrities or public figures that also spread incorrect information with regards to the causes or treatments of Type 1 Diabetes (case example is Halle Berry) also contributes to the ignorance that surrounds this disease.

Posted by bonnynemia on 13 March 2012

I have been a type 2 diabetic since July 1991 and until now, I have not yet seen any similarity between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

What caused my diabetes? Eating the wrong foods and being lazy physically.

Since diagnosis, I have been eating the right foods for me (heart-healthy, natural, fresh (raw or cooked), unprocessed, and whole carbohydrates), and exercising every day. Guess what? From week 3 after my diagnosis and up to now, I have been living like I have no diabetes.

Posted by Anonymous on 13 March 2012

I am a Type II diabetic due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I walk 3-4 miles every day, eat a healthy well balanced diet and have relatively well controlled blood sugars (last A1C was 6.0). I did not cause my disease. My grandmother did not cause her disease. My brother did not caause his disease. My other brother did not cause his disease. My dad did not cause his disease. None of us were or for those still living are obese. All of us ate well and excercised.

This blame game (and out of the above 15 comments 11 are in some way continuing the blame game that Type II's are responsible for their own disease by their actions, choices and behaviors) has got to stop so that we can actually get something done to help the people who do have the disease!

Posted by Anonymous on 13 March 2012

I am a Type II diabetic due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I walk 3-4 miles every day, eat a healthy well balanced diet and have relatively well controlled blood sugars (last A1C was 6.0). I did not cause my disease. My grandmother did not cause her disease. My brother did not caause his disease. My other brother did not cause his disease. My dad did not cause his disease. None of us were or for those still living are obese. All of us ate well and excercised.

This blame game (and out of the above 15 comments 11 are in some way continuing the blame game that Type II's are responsible for their own disease by their actions, choices and behaviors) has got to stop so that we can actually get something done to help the people who do have the disease!

Posted by Anonymous on 13 March 2012

It's about time that people get educated about diabetes. Both my parents and all my grandparents had diabetes. I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 42 years old. I was very active working as a contractor but couldn't ultimately dodge that bullet. As recently as just two years ago, my employer's misconception of diabetes cost me company growth and finally my job because he believed my care requirements hampered my ability to do my job. Of course, he never said these beliefs openly but his questions and insinuations evidenced his false understandings. Coincidently, he was diagnosed with diabetes just a week before he laid me off as "... not being a reliable employee for the future in a more competitive economy ..." whatever that means.

Posted by shosty on 13 March 2012

ps Green Lantern, what do you mean that 10% of the time type 1 cannot be prevented? Do you mean 100%? Please clarify because that is very misleading.

Posted by Anonymous on 16 March 2012

I have read articles that indicate that there is a correlation to diet and Type 1 since the more activity by beta cells the more likely to induce the immune response. That said, you still need to be genetically 'broken' to develop type 1. Ignorant people are plentiful and like a certain part of the body they all have an opinion. You just have to ignore it and I blame the scientific and media communities for lumping type 1 with type 2 and perpetuating the ignorance. Type 2 is a lifestyle disease so to me, it doesn't count since its avoidable. No Different than someone who smokes cigarettes or abuses alcohol and gets sick. It was a choice. Unfortunately, we have children becoming grossly obese at terribly young ages and it's due to many reasons, but mostly the parents inability to say no or eat right themselves. If I knew how to avoid type 1 over 30 years ago I would have!


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