Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Yet Another DUMBASS in the World~

I hope my fellow diabetes bloggers are on top of this one, too...

From the Letters section of the current issue of NEWSWEEK:
I couldn't agree more with Dave Beasley's article "Giving Kids Candy Is Anything But Sweet." I'd like to share with readers the fantastic solution my husband invented to deal with the overload of sugary, fat-laden junk food our children are constantly offered. We have "The Great Jar" in our home. Any time our children are offered candy or soda or other junk food, they can choose to eat it, or they can choose to give it to a friend or to bring it home, uneaten. Or they can just say, "No, thank you." For any junk food that they could have eaten, but didn't, we put money in the jar. For example, an uneaten snack bag of potato chips earns them 50 cents, one hard candy or lollipop is 10 cents and a soda can is $1. When the jar is full, we all go to the local bookstore or toy store, and they use the money to buy whichever toys or books they want. My kids all pressure each other to not eat junk that they are offered, and to "give it to the jar" instead. They've gotten great books and toys, instead of juvenile-onset diabetes. (emphasis mine)
Lauren Roth
Lakewood, N.J.
Holy, holy, holy fuck. What a sanctimonious, uneducated TWIT. I've written back the following:
Dear Editor-

I have just read the Letter to the Editor by Lauren Roth of Lakewood, New Jersey. Roth says that she and her husband discourage their children from eating too many sweets to prevent them from developing juvenile-onset diabetes.

As the mother of an 8-year old boy with juvenile-onset diabetes, also known as Type 1 Diabetes, I find Roth's letter disturbing and offensive. It shows a shocking lack of knowledge about this chronic, lifethreatening disease that my son and our family fight each and every day.

Type 1 Diabetes is a genetic, autoimmune disorder. The body's T-cells recognize the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (islet cells) as foreign invaders and begin to destroy them. Eventually, all the islet cells are destroyed, and the patient must take insulin shots several times daily in order to sustain life.

Type 1 Diabetes is NEVER caused by eating too many sweets. Never.

Perhaps Roth is thinking of Type 2 Diabetes, which usually hits adults but lately has been on the rise in children. Type 2 Diabetes affects the body's ability to use insulin and can sometimes be controlled with diet. Howeever, Type 1 Diabetes can never be controlled with diet and requires frequent insulin shots and blood sugar monitoring to preserve the patient's life. Type 2 Diabetes can be preventable if a pre-diabetic condition is caught early. Sadly, once the autoimmune reaction of Type 1 Diabetes has begun, it cannot be reversed. No one has ever, EVER found a way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes, although researchers are working on a vaccine.

Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes are two completely separate diseases, similar only in that they affect the pancreas. But are pneumonia and lung cancer are the same because they both affect the lungs?

Uneducated, off-the-cuff comments like Roth's are tremendously hurtful to children with Type 1 Diabetes and their families. It's very demoralizing and disheartening for a child with a chronic, life-threatening and uncurable illness to be told he did something to cause this illness, when he did NOT.

A letter such as this also does a disservice to the community at large by adding to the misinformation the public already has about Type 1 Diabetes. Newsweek is supposed to be an informative, fact-based magazine, and it is tremendously disappointing to see this kind of false information spread about as if it is true. Newsweek should print a retraction and do a feature on Type 1 Diabetes, its effects and the fight for the cure, in order to remedy this situation.

I hope you will pass this letter along to Lauren Roth so that she will be aware that there are two types of diabetes. I am glad to share with her the enormous amount of information I have accumulated on this subject as the parent of a little boy who bravely battles this disease every day.

Martha O'Connor
I encourage anyone who cares about this issue to write, also. letters{AT}

It was so irresponsible of NEWSWEEK not to fact-check this letter before printing it.