RESPECT my Human Dignity
Obesity is often seen as tantamount to diabetes, and vice versa. So much so, that some have coined the rather unpleasant term of ‘diabesity’ to finish off marrying the two conditions in the minds of others. This is unfortunate, because diabetes is complicated – there are many types of diabetes – and though type 2 is the one most closely associated with lifestyle choices – it is often triggered by various circumstances, and may affect people of all walks of life, including those who are fit. It’s unfortunate when we fail to look at the nuance in everything we see, including both diabetes and obesity. And shaming people only causes them to wallow in grief, and die in silence. It is a painful thorn on my side knowing how much I struggle with my choices, and how much society belittles us for it.
“You got diabetes because you were irresponsible with your health.”
Indeed, while there might be a large percentage of Americans who are either overweight or obese, the number of Americans with diabetes does not actually correlate very well with that number. While around 60%+ of Americans are either overweight or obese, only 9.3% of Americans have diabetes – and this figure includes the undiagnosed, and people with ANY type of diabetes. Furthermore, insulin resistance is known to cause weight gain just as much as weight gain can increase insulin resistance. It is a self-feeding mechanism.
To be sure, obesity is a serious problem. There’s only so much that personal choice can do against the powers of marketing, and food scarcity. But when obesity is only seen as a personal choice we make every day, and not as an active social dynamic which impacts our very cognitive behavioral mechanisms, then we won’t respect the patient’s dignity. Then we’ll make fun and dehumanize, because that somehow makes us feel better about our own shortcomings.
We won’t respect that Suzanne’s mother force fed her as a child; we won’t respect that Bob was bullied as a young man for not fitting in; we won’t respect that Jerry had an alcoholic father – and food was always there for him, instead. We won’t respect that Betty overate because she wasn’t sure when she was going to get to eat again. And we certainly won’t accept that we, as a society, glamorize rich foods and overeating ALL the time. We do so while claiming we’re on a diet, and watching our weight, mind you. That slim news anchor on that morning show will have just gotten done discussing healthy eating and sermonizing about the diabetes epidemic, only to talk about the three chocolate, twice baked, cookie encrusted brownies on the next segment.
But moderation, you say… Yes, moderation… yes, calories in, and calories out. But people are their own worlds – their own medical quandaries, and they have a lot more things going on for them than just obesity. And no… this is not ‘rare.’ Societal failed dynamics and poor parenting are not rare. People often throw that word ‘rare’ around without really studying it much. How rare are Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, food scarcity, abusive parents, a lack of appropriate food education in the home as well as in schools? These things are not very rare at all! These things are RAMPANT! Whenever you see a person who is obese or overweight, you should not see ‘irresponsibility,’ you should see ‘imbalance.’ Health, or personal, or social… We all have an imbalance somewhere. We’re all aware of it, and struggling to make the choice to face it. Imbalance is so hard to figure out. Who are we to judge why ANYONE is overweight, or has any given health condition? Obesity and diabetes require cognitive behavioral therapy, and human EMPATHY, as much as the ins and outs of proper nutrition. DIGNITY shall not be denied the diabetes patient. I AM and I have value. I am worthy. I have dignity.