Last night, after a lovely dinner with a couple of diabetes mates, I rushed home to watch Insight on SBS. The topic was type 2 diabetes and diet, specifically, a very calorie-restrictive diet being promoted by Dr Michael Mosley.
I was particularly interested because the CEO of Diabetes Australia (my boss) was one of the guests on the show.
I don’t really want to write about the diet being presented on the show. I am not a healthcare professional and have no qualifications in dietetics, so I am not going to remark on the ins and outs of the diet being discussed or the claims that it ‘reverses’ type 2 diabetes.
What I am going to comment on is the Twitter commentary that accompanied the show. You can go back and have a read at #InsightSBS and see that some of the armchair discussion was pretty well-balanced, (special kudos to Warrnambool DNE, Ann Morris for her balanced tweets), but unfortunately, a lot of it wasn’t.
A couple of very well-known celebrity trainers* were tweeting along to the show. (*When I say ‘well-known’, I knew of one of them – Michelle Bridges – but had to be told who the other one was. I’d never heard of Commando Steve before last night. Apparently he is Michelle Bridges partner, so I like to think they were sitting together on the couch, tweeting and judging people. Birds of a feather…!)
On the program were a number of people either living with type 2 diabetes or who had been identified at risk of developing diabetes. So, so much credit to these people for going on a national television program to speak about living with a condition that so many know so little about.
I listened to their stories and heard how they were living with a complex and confusing chronic condition. I heard about how some had made changes that they felt they could manage, and others who clearly had so much else going on, that they simply were unable to make the recommended changes that may have positively impacted on their health.
Diabetes Australia CEO, Professor Greg Johnson (again – my boss, so consider the bias when reading this) said the following: ‘We don’t want to put people in positions of failure. Already they are in positions of failure in diabetes.’
And this is where the celebrity trainers jumped in. Firstly, this from Michelle Bridges:
And then this from Commando Steve (who I assume has a proper name?):
Their complete and utter lack of understanding of living with a chronic health condition shouldn’t astound me. Who really knows unless you are living it every day?
But surely they could show a little empathy, or acknowledge how tough dealing with a lifelong condition might me.
I would like them to suggest how we remove the ‘emotion’ from diabetes. It permeates every single facet of life some days, so tell me how we cast aside any feelings or emotion?
Commando Steve tweeted that ‘people will come up with all the excuses in the world not to take responsibility for their own health’ which does nothing other than lay blame, stigmatise and judge.
The simplistic approach offered by people like Bridges and Commando Steve will never address the real issues of diabetes. In fact, all they do is add to the stigma, which is one of the reasons that so many living with diabetes find it difficult to make changes. Way to go, guys. Your lack of ‘insight’ is shocking.