Sometimes an Apple is Never a Banana

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Oh, uh…hai. Yep, I still exist. I just haven’t posted because I’ve been monumentally busy offline with some disability-rights stuff, and I’ve had to work overtime, and also..well, you know how when you haven’t called someone in a very very long time it makes you more hesitant to call them, because…well, where do you start?

But I just read something that made me say, “Okay, start here.” It was a story about a 375-pound prisoner who was granted a reprieve by a judge of one day for every pound lost, and needless to say, GIANT TW on the entire thing, but the gist of it was that the man lost 25 pounds in 20 days, which shocked even the judge, and that situation was just a big rusty nail on which to hang a bunch of fattypanic and diabeeetus catastrophization on. You know, the US TV networks. That’s what they do.

And then there was this:

According to an August 2011 report, if every obese person decreased his or her body mass index by just 1 percent (a loss of 2 pounds for a 200-pound adult), as many as 2.4 million diabetes cases, 1.7 million cases of heart disease and stroke and 127,000 cancer cases could be prevented.

Okay, that’s one of those “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” situations, is it not? All I have to lose is two measly pounds, and I’ll live forever? Why didn’t they say so? All I have to do is stop taking my stomach medicine and start going doody eight times a day again, and…well, okay, maybe not that. Maybe I could start blowing my nose harder after I sneeze? Yeah, that sounds a lot easier.

Still, I couldn’t help but follow the link back to this alleged study that said any weight loss at all, by any possible means, is the difference between deathly sick and lifetime well. (Warning on more TW, plus video opens automatically at the link.) And then followed another link within that story (same warnings apply). And wouldn’t you know it, it’s just more sub-Wagnerian opera about how we’re “projected” to all be fat and diabetic by the year 2030, using about the same methodology which “projects,” in the deathless words of Paul Campos, “that within a few generations Olympic sprinters will be running at speeds that will hurl them into low Earth orbit and everyone in America will have a plasma TV seventeen miles wide.”

In other words, they don’t actually have any data, it’s just more OMG WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE IF WE DON’T STOP EATING sillyshit, the likes of which I’ve learned how to screen out because I’d rather not have to add an antihypertensive to my already burdensome drug cocktail. But I actually followed yet another link to the CDC page that made these “projections,” and this passage leaped out at me like Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark:

One in 10 U.S. adults has diabetes now. The prevalence is expected to rise sharply over the next 40 years due to an aging population more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, increases in minority groups that are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, and people with diabetes living longer, according to CDC projections published in the journal Population Health Metrics. Because the study factored in aging, minority populations and lifespan, the projections are higher than previous estimates.

Do you see what I see? People with diabetes are living longer. Yeah, isn’t the whole reason they wave DIABETES DIABETES DIABETES DOOM DOOM DOOM LOSE THE WEIGHT ALL OF IT RIGHT NAO NAO NAO FATASS at us all day, every day, because this is an allegedly deadly disease that will first turn us into people with disabilities (which nobody wants to be, of course, because Disability = Tragedy), and then kill us dead before we can get to our children’s college graduations? What are you saying, that’s not happening anymore? Because it’s being diagnosed and managed earlier and only a small percentage of diabetes patients actually experience major comorbidities before they’re very old, at which point they might actually die of something else first? It’s now more like osteoporosis or hypothyroidism, something old people commonly get but is extremely manageable? Well, gosh, that’s not exactly setting my ass on fire to get down to Jenny Craig right away, is it? Surely ABC can’t have that.

I mean, seriously. Is anyone in the Paid Media, or any of the Upper-Class Twits they interview almost exclusively about these matters, paying attention to what’s going on out there? People are losing their jobs left and right and not getting new ones, like ever. Kids are graduating from college with more debt than they’d have to go into to buy a condo, and they’re not getting jobs that actually use their educations, like ever. Those of us who DO have jobs are being worked to fucking death and having our compensation slashed and basically being treated like sled dogs at Iditarod only less intelligent, and we have no recourse because once we lose those jobs we won’t ever get new ones. Like ever. Think that’s going to fuck up our health some, Upper-Class Twits? And if you really want to decrease the costs of diabetes, how about negotiating drug prices like every other industrialized country, so we don’t have to smuggle our insulin down from Canada if we lose our employee-sponsored health insurance? How about limiting the compensation insurance executives can pull down, so that it’s not in the multi-globillions? The poor babies will just have to settle for the $10,000 bottle of wine they have on hand, instead of dispatching an assistant in the Airbus to go pick up a different bottle from the wine cellar at the Amagansett house and bring it back to Antibes because the one they have doesn’t go spectacularly well with abalone. Awwwwww.

Think about it, though. I’m pretty sure the people who run the US government would love nothing more than if at least half the nonaffluent people in this country would just die already. There aren’t enough jobs to go around and never will be, the social safety net is in tatters, they just don’t know how we’re gonna keep all us useless eaters alive for the next 20 years, diabetes or no diabetes. Our dropping dead would make things infinitely easier for them. So if one more potential death sentence gets eliminated, how are they going to manage that?

Today’s type 2 diabetes is not yesterday’s type 2 diabetes. Not only was yesterday’s diabetes rarely diagnosed before the end stages, when gangrene and retinopathy and such had already set in, but they keep ratcheting the definition down all the time; I’ve even seen some doctors recommend a maximum HbA1c of no more than 5. (Mine is 5.7, and I’ve never had a fasting sugar over 92, ever.) So it’s apples to bananas again. It’s as if they managed to increase the average lifespan of prostate-having persons to age 90, then started yowling because the rate of prostate cancer was skyrocketing. Well, no freaking poopie it is! But did you see the AVERAGE LIFESPAN OF 90 part? Really, folks, we should be so lucky that we’ll all be 85-year-old diabetics one day.

18 Responses to “Sometimes an Apple is Never a Banana”

  1. Joyce Sully Says:

    My mother was diagnosed with Type 1 when I was five (her father was diagnosed as a young adult as well) and between that family history and my weight, my life has been one diabetes panic after another from both family and doctors. My grandmother has gone so far as to tell my mother that, had she known that her child would end up with diabetes like her husband, she would not have had her. Since I was a preteen, I was fed the story that a) my weight is guaranteed to give me diabetes and b) that diagnosis will be the end of my life as I know it. HAES was never an option; life with diabetes was an option like living with a railroad spike through your skull is an option–sure, sometimes, but wouldn’t you rather not? Wouldn’t you rather be dead?

    So in light of that, I say, hell yeah, I’ll take being an 85-year-old diabetic one day! I’ll take any message that finally admits that, no, my mother’s life with diabetes is not some sad sham. No, my life as a fat woman is not a bomb with a short and blubbery fuse.

    And lastly, amen to this not being yesterday’s diabetes any more. I envision a future in which my mother can have a steampunk-fabulous, clockwork pancreas and THIS IS NOT THAT UNREALISTIC. Up with technology, down with fat-hating, ableist hand-wringing.

    • meowser Says:

      Yeah, they’re gonna feel a little silly when the islet cell transplants start happening, just like the people 70 years ago who “just knew” everyone in the world would have polio by now.

    • R.O.U.S. Says:

      No, my life as a fat woman is not a bomb with a short and blubbery fuse.

      I want a t-shirt that says this.

  2. Erin S. Says:

    Oh but haven’t you heard? McDonalds is ALWAYS hiring, and since us blubbertastic landwhales are already there shoveling McFood into our fat McFaces every hour of every McDay, we can totally easily get McJobs so we’re not stealing their money to pay for our mandatory knee replacement at 25 and ultimate death at 30.

    Course, I’ve been dead for 6 years now, so what do I know?

  3. vesta44 Says:

    Those doctors who are recommending an A1c of 5 haven’t realized that really tight blood sugar control isn’t all that great for type 2 diabetics. MedPage Today listed several studies that showed tight blood glucose control in type 2 diabetics led to more complications than not. Thank Maude my husband’s doctor is happy with keeping his A1c between 6 – 7. He was diagnosed 17 years ago (he’s almost 56) and so far, doesn’t have any of the complications from it, even though his A1c has gone as high as 9 from time to time (lose a job, get another job, and the change in schedule and when he gets his insulin throws everything off for a while).
    My ex-doctor tried to tell me I was pre-diabetic because I’m fat and my last fasting blood sugar was 92. She said I needed to watch what I ate, blah blah blah. Now, this is a doctor who I’d been seeing for 4 years and every time I saw her, asked me if I was diabetic simply because I’m fat. And I had told her every time that no, I’m not diabetic, have never been diabetic, not even when I was pregnant. She also knew that my husband has type 2 diabetes and that I cook to control his blood sugar and eat exactly the same meals he does, but thinks I need to be told I need to watch what I eat. I told her I do watch what I eat – I watch it go from the plate to my mouth, thank you very much.

    • Ashley Pariseau Says:

      Vesta, I see you comments a lot around the fatosphere. Do you have your own blog?

      • vesta44 Says:

        Ashley, I do have my own blog, but it’s rather fallen by the wayside lately. I’ve been too busy with posting on FFF, moderating First Do No Harm, and now I contribute to Big Fat Blog, too. So my blog has gotten the short end of the stick most of the time for the last year or so.

  4. Ashley Pariseau Says:

    I don’t know much about diabetes, but this is actually pretty helpful to someone like me. My grandma always told, “Stop eating so many sweets, you put yourself into a diabetic,” I always thought she was full of it.

  5. Buttercup Says:

    I MISSED YOU! ::fangirl flailing:: ahem. Excellent piece!

  6. Fatadelic Says:

    Quite Was this man’s driving offence related to his weight? No? Then what business is it of the court how much he weighs? This is the kind of “help” we could do without.

  7. The Well-Rounded Mama Says:

    We missed you, Meowser! Glad you’re back!

  8. Emerald Says:

    I think there are two points about Type II that people tend to forget. One, yes, we’re all living longer anyway, and as a doctor told us when my (very thin) mother was ‘diagnosed’ as Type II in her late 70s (that word is in quotes because first she had it, then on her next test she didn’t, then she did again, so I’m still not sure if she ever did really have it or if they were random fluctuations – more on that below), some people of that age develop blood glucose issues ‘just because’. A pancreas is an organ like any other; age tends to make them work less effectively, in anyone.

    The other thing is that diagnosis has become much more aggressive. Here in the UK, people with no symptoms are now being routinely tested. The first time I had my blood glucose tested was in the mid-90s, as workup for extreme fatigue (they finally said it was mild anemia, but a later doctor said it’s more likely I was depressed at the time – the former doctor wouldn’t consider it because he thought depressed people always got insomnia). I recall the blood glucose thing involving several stages before the doctor concluded it was normal. These days, as with my mother above, it appears they’re much more likely to ‘diagnose’ someone (or misdiagnose them) on a single finger stick. Also, the apparent rising rate in kids – how exactly are they working that out? Rate of diagnosis doesn’t equal rate of prevalence, and from what I and my husband remember, it simply wasn’t something any of us were tested for in childhood or adolescence. Do the past figures they’re comparing today’s figures with even exist in any meaningful form?

    There’s also this, which is slightly disturbing:
    One, as Vesta said, tight control may not be so good; but two, because so many GPs still see weight loss as essential for diabetes control, it gives them a personal stake in putting patients on diets. If only we had more studies to prove that HAES was a better means of achieving that end, maybe our doctors would sit up and take notice.

    • Erin S. Says:

      You know, that is a very good point I hadn’t thought of regarding the rise of childhood type II diabetes — I honestly don’t remember EVER being tested for diabetes as a child, teen, or even into young adulthood and I’ve been fat the whole time. So how much of that rise is actually being caused by the moral outrage over fat kids.

      Maybe there have always been this number of kids that, if tested using today’s methods and levels, would have come up as having type II diabetes — except that they were not being tested to this extreme, and those few who were tested had a much higher bar to pass before they would have been given the diagnosis.

      Kind of a tail wagging the dog type thing.

      • meowser Says:

        I can tell you right now, nobody ever took my blood when I was a kid (1963-1981). For anything. It just was not done unless a kid was deathly ill. So there’s really no “old days” data pool for comparison, not to mention the fact that qualifying FBS was 140 then, not 126. Besides, t2d in people under 20, when it does occur, almost never turns up in middle-class white kids.

      • Emerald Says:

        Replying to this because I can’t reply to Meowser’s post below, but yes: to put it in perspective, T2D is still pretty rare in kids, despite all the furore about it. The Diabetes UK site says that there are around 22,000 kids under 17 with diabetes in the UK, only 1.5% of those are Type 2, and kids of South Asian origin are way more likely to have it than any other ethnic group.

        I’m also recalling that recent Canadian study that found that eating disorders were twice as common as T2D in kids. The concern is going in entirely the wrong direction IMHO.

  9. Rosa Says:

    Amen, Amen.

    And I’m glad you came back!

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