It's been a little over 24 hours since the infamous Coke=Diabetes Tweet was sent from the official account of Crossfit. There have been numerous articles written about this fiasco, and I originally had no interest in writing one of my own. I spend a good bit of time on the internet, like most 20-somethings, so I've developed a thick skin for this type of ignorant joke. I was content to just let it go by; there were already articulate people fighting the battle with Crossfit on Twitter and Facebook. Then things started getting crazy. Instead of apologizing, maybe back pedaling, Crossfit not only stood by its tweet, but then opened its figurative mouth and spouted a lot of things that made it clear that the person tweeting for Crossfit does not understand diabetes. That's fine. Most people don't understand diabetes until they're forced to (and yes, it just highlights how far we have to go in raising awareness). The issue comes in the fact that they are not willing to let go of their misconceptions.
Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to express how strong the Diabetic Online Community (DOC) is. Generally, we stick together. We support one another, we chat, we fund raise, and we kick ass. Generally. When these jokes (obviously geared to the type 2 crowd) come out, the first issue always presented is "not type one! Nope, not me! I was diagnosed as a child and I only ate organic unicorn meat before I was diagnosed; I was perfectly healthy!" and the typical response is "oh, of course we didn't mean you! We know you guys are totally innocent!" So, I'm not going to touch that one. We are aware that type one and LADA (slow-onset type 1) are autoimmune conditions that we don't know how to prevent. We know.
My problem with the obvious "not me" gut reaction of type ones is that we are throwing our T2 brethren under the bus. I'm of the opinion that we have the more socially acceptable diabetes because it's generally accepted that we didn't do anything to cause our diabetes. But we need to stick with our T2 friends. I know there are quite a few T1 folks who resent the T2s because they feel T2 is easily preventable. I've already written about why I fight these misconceptions, but seriously, nobody asks for diabetes. Nobody deserves diabetes.
Some facts from the CDC:
As of their 2014 report, and estimated 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 95% of those cases are type 2. Out of all T2 cases, an estimated 80 percent of them occur in overweight or obese individuals (those with a BMI of 25 or higher).
Okay, so dismissing the 1,455,000 T1s and the 5,529,000 "thin" T2s in the US, we are left with 27,645,000 overweight or obese type 2 diabetics. That's a lot of overweight T2s, I know. It shouldn't be surprising, given that being overweight is one risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes. Newsflash: regular, full-sugar soda is a beverage that is relatively high in calories. Consuming an excess of calories causes the body to store the extra calories as fat, adding weight.
I am not denying that drinking cola can contribute to gaining weight, which can contribute to developing type 2 diabetes.
Given that 66.8% of Americans are overweight, and 35.7% are obese, I would honestly expect to have more type 2 Americans if weight were the biggest contributing factor. If HALF of all obese (BMI of 30 or greater) Americans had type 2 diabetes, there would be over 57 million type 2 Americans. It seems pretty clear to me that weight is only one contributing factor in the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Ultimately, the big fuss surrounding the Tweet is really about fat shaming. For a fitness Twitter account though, that's business as usual. Because, you know, these elite fitness types work so hard for their bodies, and everyone who doesn't is just wrong. And if you're one of those wrong people, you could totally benefit from their fitness regime and supplements. You could fix yourself, you know. you could save yourself from diabetes, because as long as you work out and don't drink soda, you can't get diabetes. Tell that to the 5 million T2 diabetics who are at an acceptable weight.
Another large component of developing T2 diabetes is ancestry. 13.2% of black Americans have diabetes, compared to 7.2% of whites. But we can't post a meme about having diabetes because you're black, because that would be uncouth, right? It totally wouldn't be cool to blame diabetes on something that an individual can't control.
Tl;dr If you say "drinking Coke will make you fat and give you diabetes," you sound like this: