Anti-Type 2 prejudice from anonymous strangers!

In one of the newspapers today, there was a report on new research showing that a ‘poor diet’ during pregnancy may increase the risk of a woman’s descendants developing Type 2.

This is quite different from the usual crap you read in the media about fat lazy slobs who brought it on themselves.

I posted a response in the online comments forum, basically saying that T2 is not caused by being a fat lazy slob, otherwise all fat lazy slobs would have T2. I also added in passing that Sir Steve Redgrave has Type 2 diabetes. Sir Steve is Britain’s greatest Olympic athlete. He was diagnosed with T2 shortly before he won his 5th Olympic gold in five Olympics. But because it was widely reported that he went on insulin immediately, and used an insulin pump, most people think that he is a Type 1.

I did not think there was anything particularly controversial in what I said but when I checked back later, my innocuous comment was the most disliked comment on that article, with a slew of red arrows!

Now, I’m not silly enough to take this personally or too seriously, as the newspaper in question is known for being mass-market and reactionary, and the online comments are usually the kind of throwaway water-cooler conversation. To put things in context, the kinds of comments that get lots of green arrows are things like ‘Deport all dirty smelly immigrants especially the Muslim ones as they are all extremists.’ Whereas if you were to post a comment like ‘Legal immigrants pay their taxes, and not all Muslims are extremists’, you would get a lot of red arrows.

Still, it just sort of saddened me because it reflected the wilful ignorance and prejudice of this anonymous public out there.

The article can be found here if anyone is interested.

sorry but it’s the internet and it’s filled w/ anonymous trolls. You tried the best to educate 'em nothing else you can do but wish that very bad things happen to them soon. :wink:

Well, you did your best to educate a few people, eh?

Sometimes it feels like “casting pearls before swine” but people did read your comment. Who knows? Perhaps it will make them think a bit in the future?

I looked for your response but couldn’t find it. All the responses I saw were defending Type 2. Wonder what happened?

Anyway, what the article is basically talking about is epigenetic changes, that is changes that occur in the genome because of environment. That’s a new area of research, and there is not much known at this point. But there actually could be something in the mother’s diet that could epigenetically influence the fetus – but they certainly don’t know what it is. I’m interested in finding out why the incidence of Type 2 is increasing so much – maybe epigenetics does have something to do with it.

I actually don’t know how I feel about this. I think that “fat lazy slob” is obviously a deplorable characterization but I think there’s significant evidence that diet and lifestyle are risk factors for T2DM (as well as a host of other metabolic and cardiovascular problems). There’s also evidence suggesting they are independently causative factors, even when you control for genetics, race/ethnicity, and other environmental conditions. I really think the argument that “if it was caused by being a ‘fat lazy slob’, all the fat lazy slobs would have it” misunderstands the nature of risk. There are nonsmokers who die in their 30s of lung cancer, and there are two-pack-a-day smokers who live into their 90s, but that doesn’t mean there’s no causal relation between smoking and the incidence of lung cancer. The same is true of chronic heart disease, diabetes, or most other diseases that are not autoimmune or otherwise occult. Admitting that poor diet (I’m not going to get into what this is, that’s a whole other can of worms) and a sedentary lifestyle are risk factors is a bitter pill (because it creates the risk of heaping fault on people suffering from T2 and other diseases), but I think the alternative–denying that they are related–is worse.

FWIW I don’t have T2 (although I don’t think it matters)

Natalie - the comment was posted under my other nom de plume, or rather, nom de chatte as it’s the name of one of my other tabbies. And the response you’re referring to was JeanV’s contribution (thanks for the support Jean!)

The way I understand it (currently) is that BOTH obesity and type 2 are caused (exacerbated) by the same genetic mutations. That is, when I was young and fighting uncontrollable urges to binge on more and more and more carbohydrates – but still had normal fasting blood glucose levels – both the urge to binge and the later conversion to type 2 were the result of genetic defects – not just one but several.

That is: correlation does not necessarily equal causation.

I felt what I felt for a reason: screwed up genes. What I felt (lethargic, hungry all the time, depressed, craving carbohydrates, not feeling satisfied until I ate way too many carbohydrates, having reactive hypoglycemia “attacks”) was caused by my genes, not by my moral failings.

I have known instinctively that this was true for decades because I clearly remember what it felt like to be a super active, quite thin and muscular child who was a picky eater and not all that interested in food. Until I went through puberty, and the “hormonal symphony” went sour, I would much rather play than eat, and my mother practically had to chase me down to get me to sit still long enough to consume a meal if I was on the run. I went almost over-night from never thinking much about food to being obsessed with it and this happened the same year that my menses started. I can still remember the transition as clear as day, even though it was 42 years ago.

I remember telling a dozen doctors, “I’m not hungry in my belly, I’m hungry in my brain.”

Of course, no one understood what I was saying and it took decades of medical research for people to start understanding about PCOS and dopamine and leptin and grhelin and the various genes that cause type 2 to progress in some and not others, or to respond to exercise in some and not others, or to diet in some and not others.

The bottom line is that the popular meme that “fat, lazy slob” = type 2 = moral failing is not merely mean-spirited and cruel, it’s also factually incorrect.

You’re very welcome!

Let’s leave out the “gay germ” theory here. The two people who proposed that theory could not get published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and no pathogen was ever found or even proposed.

Genetics is a tricky subject, because it’s a huge factor in many individual cases, but really can’t explain trends over large populations (such as the modern epidemic of lifestyle diseases…surely they’re not all attributable to genetics?) And you’re right that correlation does not equal causation, but a strong correlation over a large sample size (in terms of both population size and timeframe) between an independent variable (diet and lifestyle) and a dependent variable (rates of disease) is a pretty close substitute. Obviously this is a really complex epidemiological problem that evades easy explanations from either angle, but I think it’s facile to say that it’s “all lifestyle” or “all diet” or “all genetics”.

Even if it were all the result of a lifestyle choice, I would never characterize it as a “moral failing” for the same reason that I don’t characterize most lifestyle choices as a moral failing. Lifestyle and dietary choices represent a subjective assessment of risks vs. rewards, and this assessment doesn’t really have a moral character…like if someone said “I am happy to live for 5 years less, on average, for the privilege of smoking/eating McDonalds every day/etc.” then I don’t see any reason that’s a problem, or at least not a moral problem. People who call others “fat lazy slobs” on the internet are the ones with moral problems, IMO.