Diabetes is not a joke - so drop the sugar-related punchlines

Diabetes is not a joke - so drop the sugar-related punchlines

Nadine Pedersen, the mother of a teen with type 1 diabetes, spoke to CBC's The Early Edition about breaking stereotypes around the disease and stopping the sugar-related jokes.

I was driving my 13-year-old son, Hudson, who lives with Type 1 diabetes, to school in the morning on Wednesday when we heard a quip on CBC Radio about how to eat Diwali sweets will cause diabetes.

Hudson and I looked at each other and they are so off base.

It's a common mistake, like when someone makes a not-so-knowledgeable joke. It just makes you sigh.– Hudson Carpenter

Ever since Hudson was diagnosed at age eight with Type 1 diabetes.

In fact, Type 1 diabetes is not diet related. It's incurable, life-threatening, super-challenging auto-immune disorder.

People develop Type 1 diabetes after their immune system attacks and kills the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, people who are unable to convert food into energy.

Living with Type 1

To survive, Hudson needs to test his fingers several times a day.

24 hours a day and has a continuous glucose monitor attached to his arm.

Hudson has to put the carbohydrates in every single thing he puts in his mouth to give himself the right dose of insulin.

Sugar or high blood sugar – either of which can be deadly.

It's kind of scary because you might fall asleep and never wake up and that's every night.– Hudson Carpenter

I occasionally post pictures of blue candles.

These candles mark the passing of children who have died from diabetes. Sometimes these children are having low blood sugar in the middle of the night. Other times it's because their symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are misdiagnosed as the flu.

These children end up falling into a coma and never come out of it.

As you would expect, these stories are not very funny.

Reinforcing misinformation

People make diabetes jokes as a reflex, without really thinking about what they are saying.

They are not realizing that they are perpetuating misinformation about a really complex and difficult disease.

Some people feel like it's "OK" to joke about diabetes because they associate Type 2 diabetes with people being overweight and fat-shaming is one of the last areas where people go to think that it's acceptable to mock and make fun of others.

Obviously, this is unacceptable. It's also inaccurate – Type 2 diabetes.

It's well past the time to start breaking the stereotypes around diabetes.

Insensitive comments and jokes about diabetes are exceedingly common in our society. When you listen to them, you start to notice them.

Hudson and I notice you all the time.

Nadine Pedersen, whose son has Type 1 diabetes, says they are "incurable", "life-threatening autoimmune disorder". 7:19

With files from The Early Edition

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