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So… Diabetes is your fault?

So… Diabetes is your fault?

World Diabetes Day – November 14, 2021. You would think a day that the entire world celebrates should be about creating awareness, reducing stigma, and moving the conversation forward on how we can manage the global epidemic of diabetes. And I would say most people and organizations did exactly that! With one exception. The World Health Organization (WHO), those little rascals decided to do the complete opposite. Or perhaps someone accidentally put one of the Tiktok gym bros in charge of their social media campaign this year. Either way, this is the doozy of an infographic they decided to blast out on the interwebs. 


So the cause of Type 2 Diabetes is due to a lack of activity and excess weight? And If that said individual would just get up, move and eat less, their problem with diabetes would be solved? Brilliant. This idea is like Chapter 1 of the Tiktok gym bro handbook called, ‘How to Start Providing Unsolicited and Opinion-Based Advice to Fat People.’ I also like how they further reinforced the message with the imagery of a person sitting on a couch eating a bag of chips. ‘Let’s make it as clear as possible that Diabetes is the result of gluttony and laziness.’ 

*Insert applause here*

Way to go WHO! You just told 460+ million people that Type 2 Diabetes is their fault. They brought this disease on themselves because they spent too much time sitting on the couch eating chips. Factors like genetics, socioeconomic status, environment, psychological stressors, medications, etc. have absolutely nothing to do with it. 

This campaign flies directly in the face of what World Diabetes Day is trying to accomplish, and really what any clinician with half a brain and practicing in obesity is also trying to accomplish. 

Now, before the Tiktok gym bros start coming @me to defend their brethren – no one is saying that weight, dietary patterns, and physical activity don’t play a role. I repeat literally NO ONE is saying that. Those things absolutely can play a role. In fact, managing dietary patterns and becoming more active are two things that an individual can engage in to not only reduce their risk of developing diabetes but to also manage the condition as well.

BUT, and this is a BIG effing BUT. 

1) Diet, activity, and WEIGHT are not the only factors driving the disease. If we look at all the people that have obesity, only 30% of them have diabetes. Say what?! If weight is one of the main drivers why don’t more people with obesity also have diabetes? Or maybe just maybe, there is something else at play?

2) To lose weight, improve your dietary patterns, and become more active requires a huge amount of privilege. Wouldn’t it be nice to eat more veggies? Oh wait, the nearest supermarket is a 1.5-hour bus ride away. Wouldn’t it be nice to go for a walk every night after dinner? Oh wait, you can’t actually go for a walk, let alone eat dinner, because you have to rush off to your second job so you maybe can afford food and the power bill that month. 

Make sense?

Fortunately, the WHO smartened up and took the post down. Yes, it did take a significant amount of dragging on Twitter before they came to their senses, but nonetheless, they took it down. Furthermore, they owned up to their f*ck up, and as someone who f*cks up a lot, that was the best thing they could do. Own it, and do better next time. 

Until next time my friends! 

Dr. Dan

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