Living with diabetes blog

The blame game

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. November 12, 2010

A blogger recently wrote that she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after being hospitalized with an infection. She was quite surprised by the diagnosis, because she was physically active, never ate fast food and exercised 1.5 to 2 hours a day. She also said that although she was a little overweight, she wasn't obese. After receiving her diagnosis, she lost 14 pounds (6.4 kilograms).

Later, the same woman read a news article stating that by the year 2050, 1 out of 3 people in the U.S. will have type 2 diabetes. She was upset, and rightfully so, by reader comments that referred to those with type 2 diabetes as "slobs," "lazy," and "people who can't control their eating." One comment went so far as to say that they "deserve the disease."

Wow. No matter the type of diabetes, the diagnosis always comes as a shock. With it often comes guilt, self-blame, denial, depression, anxiety, fear and a sense of helplessness. I felt all of these when my two sons were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes — as their mother.

Why is type 2 diabetes one of the few diseases in the U.S. for which it's all right to blame people for getting it? Lifestyle plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, but so do genes. One person might be overweight, able to eat whatever he or she wants, never exercise and yet still not get diabetes, while another person who isn't overweight, eats a healthy diet and exercises does get type 2 diabetes.

As William Polonsky, PhD — author of several diabetes books — says, "You didn't do anything wrong. Having diabetes doesn't mean you're a bad person. It means your body isn't functioning right."

An important thing to remember about having type 2 diabetes is that it's a manageable disease. It's within your ability to turn it around and minimize risk of developing complications.


Nov. 12, 2010