Thursday, March 09, 2006

Please Pick Up the Phone or Email FIRST FIVE-HORRIBLE ADS!

Copying and pasting from my email program--but it's urgent & I wanted to get the word out--so forgive any bizarre formatting.

I am sure a lot of you have seen these First 5 ads. They're horrible. I am
forwarding a letter I wrote to the director of First Five. You may
write to her at the following:

Sherry Novick
Executive Director
510.526.9999 x11

There is also an 800-number that takes calls: 1-80-KIDS-025, but this
is more for people requesting services. I left a message anyhow,

I hope as many people as possible DO contact her about this. If we
flood the email boxes and phone mail boxes, maybe they will change


---------- Forwarded message ----------

Dear Ms. Novick,
As director of First Five of California, I'm sure you'll be quite
concerned to learn that there is a major factual problem with First
Five's current TV advertising campaign. It is a grave and grievous
error that is flooding the airwaves with misinformation and untold
heartbreak for millions of little children.

These ads were aired during my children's favorite program, American
Idol. In the first, a man recounts his childhood in which he ate all
sorts of horrible junk foods. Sadly, he tells the viewers, "I
developed diabetes [SIC] and now, I've lost 26 years off my life." In
the second ad, dozens of wide-eyed children beg their parents for
sodas, chips, baked pastries and other junk foods. Some children even
say, "May I have some grease?" or "May I have some diabetes, please?"
The ad goes on to explain that "1 in 3 children develop diabetes."

Perhaps you are not informed that there are TWO TYPES of diabetes.
Your ad made NO DISTINCTION and suggested that all diabetes was caused
by unhealthy habits.

Type 1 Diabetes, which my 9-year-old son developed a year and a half
ago, is an autoimmune disorder in which the body, for no apparent
reason, attacks its own pancreas. Type 1 Diabetes has NOTHING to do
with diet. Our son didn't cause his diabetes by eating poorly. We
didn't cause it by feeding him junk food. Nothing, NOTHING he or we
could have done could have prevented his disease. And as for being
physically fit, our son is very thin. He plays baseball three days a
week and swims five days a week. Even before this disease
unexpectedly struck him, he ate much less junk food than almost any
child we know.

True, Type 2 Diabetes is often related to obesity and the consumption
of sugary food. Unlike Type 1 Diabetes, it can be prevented or abated
through modification of diet and weight loss. Type 2 is on the
increase among children and true enough, THAT is often blamed on diet.
However, Type 1 has nothing to do with diet! Why, why didn't your ad
interject the two simple words: "TYPE TWO"?

These two diseases are nothing alike other than that they both affect
the same organ and they both carry the risk of devastating
complications. Besides that though, they are NOTHING the same. The
management is very different and Type 1 Diabetes requires far greater
monitoring to successfully manage the disease. And as I stated, our
son did not cause his Type 1 Diabetes. It's irresponsible to suggest
he did. His pancreas will never squeeze out a drop of insulin, and
even if he had eaten nothing but lean chicken and thrice-cooked
vegetables--as children had to do before the days of insulin, just to
eke out a few more precious months of life---HE WOULD STILL HAVE

You may find out more about Type 1 Diabetes at There, among loads of other
information, you will learn about the differences between Type 1
Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. This type of research is really
something you should have done before creating an ad about ANY type of
Diabetes. Don't you have doctors or consultants on staff? Someone
really made a grave error, I fear.

Although your ad may have INTENDED to refer to Type 2 Diabetes, what
you have done is created a harmful, devastating piece which HURTS
CHILDREN. These ads contribute to an enormous misunderstanding of the
two diseases. They have caused a little, 9-year old boy to be in
tears tonight. He does not want to go to school tomorrow because all
his friends watch the show and saw the ads. Now, they will make fun
of his diabetes and blame him for it, and tell him he caused it by
eating junk foods, when he knows he did nothing to cause it. After
almost two years of explaining this disease to his classmates and even
his classmates' parents and his teachers---WE ARE BACK TO SQUARE ONE,

I am very upset. Although I applaud an effort to improve the health
of young Californians, it simply mustn't be done at the expense of the
truth and at the expense of children's emotions.

Therefore, I am requesting that you air a retraction of these ads.
You have already damaged the emotional well-being of innocent children
who have a lifethreatening illness; it's time to make amends publicly.
Following that, I request that you modify the ads or else pull them
off the air. In addition, you might consider a donation to Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation ( or Children with
Diabetes Foundation (

Very best,
Martha O'Connor