How to Better Inform People about the Truths of Diabetes

Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of the fitness company CrossFit, evoked public outrage with a tweet displaying a Coca Cola bottle along with the caption, “Open Diabetes” and the comment, “Make sure you pour some out for your dead homies.” Glassman’s tweet prompted a number of angry responses, including those from singer, songwriter, and actor Nick Jonas, as reported by People Magazine.

Among those incensed by Greg Glassman’s tweet were parents of children with Type I Diabetes, as discussed in a Huffington Post article. Type I Diabetes is an auto immune condition that has nothing to do with body weight or an inactive lifestyle. With this condition, the body kills off the cells that produce insulin, and those who suffer from it must take insulin every day to survive.

Glassman make no distinction in his tweet between Type I and Type II Diabetes, but even if he had, it would still have been offensive. As stated in the Huffington Post article, although being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle are major contributing factors to Type II Diabetes, so is family history. Some Type II Diabetes sufferers exercise regularly and make the effort to maintain a normal weight, and yet still suffer from the disease.

Consuming Coca Cola and other products consisting of mainly refined sugar and empty calories can lead to weight gain, as stated in a Huff Post Healthy Living article and many other sources, and being overweight is a contributing factor to Type II Diabetes. Nevertheless, how productive can it be to shame and blame diabetes sufferers? The public should be made aware of diabetes, what causes it, and how to prevent it, but with a much more positive approach.

For example, WebMD informs those who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes that there are things they can do to prevent the disease from manifesting, and recommends that they focus on things they can change. Among other preventative measures, WebMD suggests losing extra pounds, exercising regularly, and eating a healthier diet. The U.S. Department of Health and Social Services National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) offers readers more than 50 tips to help prevent Type II Diabetes, such as:

  • Drinking a large glass of water 10 minutes before a meal to reduce hunger
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Eating a healthy snack before going shopping for groceries
  • Dancing, taking the stairs to the office, or catching up with friends during a walk instead of sitting down over coffee
  • Reading labels and choosing foods lower in trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars
  • Finding ways to relax, such as a taking a walk or a long bath, reading a book, or listening to music

It is important to promote public awareness of diabetes and its risk factors. However, there are more productive and certainly more sensitive ways to achieve this than offensive tweets.