Monday, April 4, 2011

Readers Digest finds the cure! NOT!

Today the DOC (Diabetic Online Community) got together again to communicate en mass. This has happened countless times in the 13 months I've been an active member. In this case, Readers Digest, a publication I've been reading since I was a child (my Grandfather bought me a continuing subscription for years, so I have a real fondness for this publication) printed an article in which the front cover page claims that healthy eating habits and physical activity can reverse diabetes.
The issue is this. Most people know very little about diabetes. Most people don't know that there's more than one type, what causes diabetes, or how it's treated. If people know anything, they think that diabetes is caused by lifestyle choices; i.e. obesity and inactivity. This couldn't be more inaccurate (it's not even wholly accurate for type 2). Type 1 diabetes, which affects approximately 5% of people living with diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Guess what, you need insulin to live. You can't replace insulin with exercise or healthier eating. In fact, just to make the point...
If Sarah wants to eat a serving of peas, she requires a unit of insulin.
It doesn't matter if the innards of the article explain that the article refers to type 2, the damage is done. Most people don't read beyond the cover - and those of us who have children, friends, loved ones living with type 1 diabetes are incredibly tired of people telling us that we can "reverse" it. And now they have more fuel. I can hear it now, "didn't you read Readers Digest? All Sarah needs to do is eat better and be more active". And anybody who knows my child knows that she's about as active as they come. And except for a love of ice cream and chocolate, she eats better than pretty much any kid I've ever met.

So I would urge my friends and family to not be fooled by anyone claiming a cure for diabetes, type 1 or type 2, because while diet and exercise may "reverse" the high blood-sugars in some type 2 diabetics, it doesn't cure type 1. And, while I'm spouting off, may I say that I'm also angry on behalf of the type 2 diabetics who DO eat right, and DO exercise and STILL have high blood-sugars.

A little knowledge, a little research, and a little sensitivity go a long way... RD, please get with the program.

If anyone would like to contact Readers Digest directly, the email address is:

Here's my letter:
Dear Readers Digest,
I've been reading your publication for more than thirty years. My Grandfather bought me a subscription while I was in elementary school, and I loved it. Every year on my birthday he renewed, and I loved reading the articles, short stories, and funny quotes. My Grandfather had type 2 diabetes, as do many other members of my family.
In your May article, you boldly claim the ability to "Reverse Diabetes" through diet and exercise. While the article itself may clarify this, you know as well as anyone that many/most people read the front page and move on.
My daughter is a vivacious, energetic, beautiful, talented eleven year old girl living with type 1 diabetes. She wears an insulin pump 24-hours per day; it keeps her alive. She pokes herself to check her blood sugar up to 10 times each day - and yes, it does hurt her. She has to count every single carbohydrate she puts into her body, even those in healthy foods like peas, carrots, and soy beans.
The reason your cover page makes me angry is that there's a definite stigma to having diabetes. Most people don't know what type 1 diabetes is, and assume that all people with diabetes have it as a result of lifestyle choices. In our family, this couldn't be more untrue.
I implore you to make a bold correction to clarify this misinformation. Better yet, maybe next month's issue could focus on educating the public on the different types of diabetes, their causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Thank you,
Michelle Gonzalez

1 comment:

  1. great letter... I hope they listen
    MaryAnne, Michael & Michelle St. Pierre


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