Finding our Voice

I was not what one would call "out of shape" when I was diagnosed. Well, I guess I really was, but it would be a bit different than most might think. I used to compete in powerlifting meets. So I was a pretty strong guy, and I thought I was in shape. I had other hobbies, and did some bike riding.

So my Type 2 snuck up on me, or at least as far as I was concerned it did. At this point, I can't really remember any early warning signs. Not too long before I was diagnosed, my family and I went to Boston and my mother was watching me constantly drink water. She (who was diabetic) correctly told me that I was. I didn't want to hear it. In any case, in the following weeks, I started feeling really bad and had to pee constantly.

What I'm searching for is some knowledge of early warning signs. My son, who is 26, is not that much overweight, but he has been a sugar junkie for most of his life. We know that eating sugar is bad, but what we don't have is any sort of direction that will give the individual a physical early warning sign that they are pre-diabetic. No urgency to get to the doctor and get tested constantly as for say, breast cancer or colon cancer. No public awareness campaign to tell people that if they feel like this or that, it could be a sign. It's sort of a hushed bit of knowledge that the first warning sign is you're way overweight. And since you being overweight is despicable, you shouldn't want to be overweight for more than just the fact you may have Type 2. Well, I wasn't way overweight, and quite a few people I know weren't way overweight, and even if you are way overweight, it doesn't make you worth less as a human being.

People with diabetes need to find our voice. Type 2 in many cases is a preventable disease. Sometimes, it may not be, but there are some simple things that make it way more preventable than the rise in the last few years would make one think. First, people need to know that no matter how good shape you think you might be in, the prevalence of processed sugar in everything we eat puts everyone at risk. The older you get, the less active you get, the more at risk you become. People need to know what the warning signs are. There is no public service campaign that lets people know what the warning signs of Type 2 are. People walk around for years with the disease. That's one of the things that makes it so damaging.
Finally, there needs to be an overall effort to ensure that Type 2 is not the result of being obese. Certainly there is more obesity in the country, just like there is an increase in the prevalence of Type 2, but in order for the country and individuals to take action, it MUST be emphasized that these things can be mutually exclusive, and that the rise in Type 2 is because of the rise in sugar and high fructose corn syrup in almost everything we eat. If there was a large public service campaign about how older people are at great risk for Type 2 given the increase of sugar and carbs in all processed food, and that older people are at greater risk due to the fact they are less active and suffer from certain maladies that make them less active such as arthritis, then I believe the general public would look at Type 2 in a very different light. Tell me what you think.

I don't think that sugar and carbs cause T2 although perhaps they don't help. There are quite a few people here who've recounted dx without a sugary junk food history. Plus not everyone who eats sugary junk food gets it. From those facts, we can conclude it's something else.

Just seeing a doctor once a year would probably catch most PWD,s. Diabetes is in the news everyday, many people live in a bubble and shy away from the doctors office until they get so sick that one of their friends or family members does a intervention. There are public service campaigns every day, it's in the news every day...the problem is really caused by the "Not Me Syndrome"

Brian...everyone in the free World knows that obesity, and lack of exercise is going to cause some kind of health issue, and diabetes is on that list....we all know that some day we are going to step in something that negatively impacts our health, but Hope and Faith....shields us ( at least our feelings) from this certainty.

Remember this is one of the biggest problems with Diabetes awareness....the "Not Me Syndrome"...I had it!

Too many of the Diabetes Have Nots look at us and say to themselves...."Not Me"

Brian W,

A little pushback and a small step to move forward.

I think your comments and questions might be better directed to your friends who don't have diabetes. I say this not to be snarky, but because having T1D, and being pretty active on this forum, I see the messages and I imagine that others on TuD do too.

I think there are lots of messages out there. Michelle Obama's "Move It!" campaign being a more recent one, Dr. Oz has done shows on his own AND when he was a frequent guest on Oprah (although I don't like how he talks about it), every report on the obesity epidemic includes diabetes, etc, etc.

How did you miss the many messages that are out there, or were you too secure in your belief that because of your powerlifting and being strong, that you could ignore them?

Could we as a community do a better job in communicating the urgency of the looming epidemic? Yes, we can and yes, we should.

Everyone should go to this link (at the AACE) and communicate with your Congressperson and Senators to co-sponsor and pass HR1074/SB539. This legislation is designed to create a committee that will report to Congress in a very short period of time on ways to circumvent the looming epidemic. Another important note is this bill adds nothing to the budget.

The second paragraph of the letter needs to be customized. I recommend deleting the sentence that begins:

I am a clinical endocrinologist who treats patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes,

and replacing it with something like this:

I am a diabetic who has been directly affected by this disease,

So what would you think is the reason for the explosion of Type 2? I can't help but think that there has to be some things that we can hone in on to stem the tide. Have you seen Dr. Robert Lustig's lectures on youtube? By far the biggest change in our diet the last 30 years has been the increased amount of sugar and corn syrup in almost everything we eat. I'm sure that there are other factors, but that's been the biggest change.

But here's the thing I'm seeing. As John G below states, the "Not Me" syndrome is huge. Personally, I had it too. I think the reason for the "Not Me" syndrome is due to the stigma surrounding people that get Type 2 and that is "only fat and lazy people have Type 2 diabetes, and I'm not fat and lazy." I think that to be effective, people have to understand that there are many other factors to getting Type 2 than just being fat and lazy, and when we let that perception hang out there, the "Not Me" syndrome will be almost impossible to conquer.

But here's the thing I'm seeing. As you stated, the "Not Me" syndrome is huge. Personally, I had it too. I think the reason for the "Not Me" syndrome is due to the stigma surrounding people that get Type 2 and that is "only fat and lazy people have Type 2 diabetes, and I'm not fat and lazy." I think that to be effective, people have to understand that there are many other factors to getting Type 2 than just being fat and lazy, and when we let that perception hang out there, the "Not Me" syndrome will be almost impossible to conquer.

I think part of the problem is that there are over 50 genes that have been identified as being involved with T2. So saying there is a single cause is bound to miss some people. The media with its love for simplistic explanations and vilifying the obese is doing a disservice to those who do not fit the profile and yet develop diabetes.

For myself I think the introduction of HFCS in the early 80's as well as the anti fat crusade which resulted in a dramatic increase of carb consumption may be factors in some people developing T2. There may also be some yet to be identified environmental variable at work.

I also think the way many docs minimize "Pre Diabetes" and wait until it becomes full blown before taking stronger action is just wrong. The best time to effectively turn things around is to treat aggressively early in diabetes' development. The term "Pre Diabetes" in itself encourages people to think it's no big deal. "Early Stage Diabetes" is a more accurate term and may help convey the fact that this needs to be dealt with now.

There is a huge cohort of people who willfully ignore their diagnosis or symptoms. Perhaps more public service announcements by people who went blind or lost limbs would convince people to take a diagnosis seriously. I myself ignored my symptoms for years and now must be much more aggressive in treating my T2. Maybe you'll see me on TV someday:)

So I'm going to ask another question in a different thread, but I want your opinion on it, as well as your experience.

My mother was always a slim woman who ate properly, cooked from scratch, didn't go to fast food places, didn't drink alcohol, ate her meat and veggies like one should. But diabetes was in her family, two sisters had it, and perhaps others who were never diagnosed. She developed it at 79 after a lifetime of eating well. She never carried an extra pound. I think heredity got her as I don't believe it was her diet. She walked everywhere too, never learned to drive a car.

I wish there had been the type of program you talk about before I was diagnosed at 42. I had no idea that someone of that age could end up with t2 so young. Recently I heard of a young man of 29 who now is t2...better education on a bigger level could help.

While there are many reasons that people can develop Type 2, the explosion of the disease has more to do with the cutting back of dietary fat and the increase in the amount of high fructose corn syrup in almost all processed foods.

I think I missed the signs because I arrogantly thought only fat, out of shape people get diabetes. I think that's why most people miss the signs, because they don't see themselves as fat and out of shape, but that IS the way people who get the disease are portrayed.

If you look at the way cigarette smoking has justly been vilified, the one thing you don't see are people who smoke cigarettes being thought of as "uncool." Being overweight isn't cool. Smoking, particularly before they knew it was killing everyone was in fact considered glamarous.

What I think would work best is changing the message somewhat. Instead of telling people they are at risk because they are overweight, tell everyone that they're all at risk because of all the sugar in the foods we eat. 80% of the items in our grocery stores have added sugar. And 20% of people with Type 2 are normal weight. I think it would work better if we worked to link Type 2 in that way instead of always linking it to obesity. It just makes people go into denial.

It isn't obvious to me that sugar or high fructose corn syrup caused yours or anyone's diabetes.

Similarly despite all my relatives insisting that candy, soda, or "refined sugar" caused my diabetes, I'm sure that wasn't it either.

Have you heard of Dr. Robert Lustig? While I agree with you that nobody can say for sure, particularly from a distance why any one person got diabetes, the guy makes a fairly compelling case that the instance diabetes has increased as the amount of fat in processed food has decreased and the amount of sugar and corn syrup has increased.

In addition, I do think- and please tell me what you think as I am interested in your opinion- that there is a stigma with Type 2 because it has that link to being overweight or obese. If we can somehow divorce the cause from being obese and instead marry it to the food supply, then the implied message becomes different than "get your lazy butt up fat boy (or girl)." I really do think that would help a lot of people psychologically.


As we know, as People age, their organs can weaken and deteriorate, so Diabetes can occur that way. Well, your Mom may have delayed in getting Diabetes then for a good long time. If so, good for her. She may also have had it a few years earlier but just wasn't diagnosed.

Type 2 Diabetes used to occur with People aged 50 and over. Now it's gone to both extremes. Unfortunately, Children have been getting Diabetes for many years. The youngest I heard of several years back was age 6 but in this short article(2004), it says the youngest Type 2 was diagnosed at age 5.

More about Children with Type 2(2013):

Some people who smoke cigarettes never get lung cancer, some people who don’t do get lung cancer. From those facts we can conclude that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. Doesn’t always work that way AR

My mother is a pediatrician and has diagnosed T2 as young as 9 years old. And yes she knows the difference.