Friday, February 5, 2010

Dear Oprah & Dr. Oz- The Diabetes Show- Major FAIL

Dear Oprah & Dr. Oz:

It's me again. I already wrote you on
Monday asking (and hoping from the bottom of my imperfect pancreas) that you'd explain and represent a TRUE picture 0f diabetes. And not only my diabetes (type 1) but every branch of the diabetes family, including type 2, gestational, and type 1.5.

Unfortunately, you did not.

So here I sit, in the Sanibel Island public library (on my vacation) writing about a your missed opportunities (on a public computer with a 20 minute limit) and perpetuation of diabetes myths and stereotypes,instead of hiking, going to the beach, taking a bike ride, and having a healthy and stress free vacation.

I'm disappointed - ON EVERY LEVEL.

As a type 1 PWD (person with diabetes,) for 30 + years; Diabetes Blogger & Advocate,
I expected so much more from you both.

Dr Oz, your a Cardiologist - a Dr. of the heart, and for the life of me I don't understand why didn't you have an Endocrinologist & CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) on your show?
Those medical professionals are experts at diabetes - and could have explained all aspects of the disease ( and it's many branches) much better than you.

Dr. Oz, you stated that Type 1 diabetics were born with the disease- and that is not the case.
I was diagnosed at the age of 8.

You stated that as type 1's we don't make "enough insulin."

NEWSFLASH: There's a lot more to that statement- your only mentioning a small part of the story. The area of the pancreas that makes insulin (the inslet of langerhans) is attacked by the body's own cells and in most cases, is completely destroyed.

According to the Type 1 involves the almost complete destruction of the beta cells over time. Eventually no insulin, or such a small amount (and C-peptide) is produced, leading to a complete dependence on exogenous (external) insulin source."

You also state that type one is genetic (which I believe is the case in my family,) but that fact is certainly not the case for all type 1 diabetics. As a matter of fact, the majority of type 1's I've come in contact with are the only one's in their family diagnosed with the disease.

At the beginning of the show, you showed a type 1 worse case scenario. While I empathize and feel for her on every level, why only show the worst case scenario? Why not also show a type 1 who is living a great life, has their diabetes in check- and is an example of what living life with diabetes can be like?
Dr. Oz, you also stated that the majority of type 2's result because of life style issues. Also incorrect. Later on you briefly mention that genetics plays a part.

You also say it can be reversed with lifestyle changes such as; eating healthy, weight loss, and exercise. While these things certainly help ALL diabetics live a healthier life - it does not cure it.
Once a diabetic- always a diabetic.

You continually used the word sugar instead of carbs. If you were hip to the diabetes community' (including both patient and medical professionals,) you'd know it was all about carbs -which has been the general practice for the last 15 or so years!

Way to go Dr. OZ. Outstanding example of perpetuating the myth that people with diabetes (any type) cause their own disease.

If I had a nickle for every single time someone said: "IF you just gave up sugar you'd be off the dreaded insulin in a month," or "Your a type 1- but you look so healthy," I'd have more money than Oprah.

Every single day, those of us with diabetes must constantly fight the public stereotypes (we cause it ourselves, we can't have sugar, we shouldn't look or be healthy , we can't have kids, etc) about our disease, it's causes , and what it really means.

Your show did very little to help the diabetes community. Now our battle to educate the public and make them aware about people with diabetes, and procure funding for research for the cure has been severely damaged.

My computer time is up- the Sanibel librarian is kicking me off!

I'm sad, frustrated, with a half finished blog post and a librarian glaring at me for tying up the computer..

I expected so much more from you both regarding DIABETES -as did the diabetes commnunity as a whole!


Cara said...


Crystal said...

Ditto, too.

Now k2, go, have a great vacation! The Dmob and DOC....we got this. We get each others back when others are worries. ;-)


Anonymous said...

K2 cracks one towards the fence in left center... it's going, going, GONE!

Nice one, can't wait for part 2

Stacy said...

I didn't watch it...and I'm glad. Overcoming the misperceptions is so hard and I've only been doing it for 3 years...I can't imagine how frustrating it would be after 30 years!
Stacy (mom to a 6 year old T1 diabetic)

Katie from SF, CA said...

Kelly! Please actually send that to them - if you didn't already. ( They limit you to 2000 characters. I said almost exactly what you said (see my blog). Keep up the advocacy!

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

Way to go K2!! Now go enjoy Florida!!!

phonelady said...

amen i was very dissapointed as well . excuse what do I say to them I was not dxed as a baby or born with it certainly not my case . I was 16 and now am 49 definately not a worse case scenario I cant believe he would show that poor woman who did not take care of herself . I was waiting for my head to explode LOL !!

Skinny Gene Project said...

Unfortunately, I think the focus is often times placed too much on the disease and too little on the people it touches.

Very little attention is given to the perceptions a person with type 1 or type 2 must overcome.

The negative stereotypes make it difficult for someone to want to face this disease head-on.

As advocates for diabetes prevention, this makes our job that much harder.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Laura said...

i only saw the last 15 minutes of that Oprah episode, but was sadly disappointed.

jpnairn said...

Didn't see it, but read the articles on the web site. They are full of crap. I counted 25 things totally wrong, and the interesting thing is, it was all Dr. Oz.
Dr. Ian Smith and Bob Greene were able to talk about diabetes sensibly, without any falsehoods, stereotypes, or myths, to make it clear when they were talking about obesity, type 2 diabetes, or diabetes in general.
Oz is an ignorant, egotistic, know-it-all who should have invited an expert to speak.

Canadian said...

Thank you for setting the facts straight! I had high hopes for Oprah's diabetes show and I was schocked and disappointed with the misinformation. It's a real shame Oprah's large audience will now believe this misinformation. Where is the American medical community? Why aren't they speaking out?

George said...

I totally agree! They didn't even mention the healing power of Bacon, those basterdz.

Awesome post my friend.

Cdejulius said...

I hope she reads and positively responds to your well written post! You are awsome and make the point in language that everyone can understand. Well done!!!

Tootie said...

I just ran across your blog because of "Sanibel" in it. :-)

I live here on the island now, but I remember when I was coming here on vacation, what a pain in the butt it was to be restricted to a 20 min limit on a computer. So.....if you need more time than that just drop me an email and we'll see what we can work out. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ditto two.

HVS said...

Well said.I kind of figured it would be mainly about type 2..
but to use the type 1 as the horror story,& throw in all kinds
of inaccurate info about how she got to that sad plight was tasteless and nauseating.If they wanted to focus on the type 2's,why even bother showing a type 1(whose D-battles are very different then that of a type 2)I don't think this show helped the D-community in the slightest.

Unknown said...

Kelly - Very well put. You brought up things that have become so second nature to me that I don't even think about them anymore and ignore when others bring up the "sugar-insulin" line. I still give the show a barely-passing grade of 60 out of 100 because there was some information there that may penetrate the heads of some people. However the show should have been a multi-part series and you brought up excellent points that Dr. Oz should have caught. I think we all have to realize that the show is only 1 hour (with breaks) and viewing audiences are very fickle. Unfortunately they have to edit to please the viewing audience. But they could have done more in so many ways. I'd say that they blew it to some extent but not "big-time." Even a friend of the family who is in diabetes denial was able to understand her diabetes a bit more in relationship to her eating habits when watching the church members meal and claims she'll be making some diet changes. So we know the show helped one person. :-)

the poor diabetic said...

what can say, even for the a type 2 that was an insane non factual of a farce if I ever saw one. It is just a shame coz a lot of people especially African Americans watch her show and all she did was perpetuate the sugar myth. sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

Why to go Kelly. As the grandpa of a type 1 dx'd at age 2, I was also very frustrated at the show.
We have enough to deal with and are constantly have to correct a misinformed public. The show has set us back years in public awareness.
I'm discovering that Ti's dx'd at an early age grow up to become very responsible and special people of which you are clearly one. Thanks for being the inspiration and shining example that you are. No... go enjoy your vacation.

Unknown said...

awesome post.
I know Dr. Oz is their medical "go-to guy", but honestly, they could have gotten an endocrinologist. ugh.
Thank you for your post.

Rachel said...

Nicely said! Now if I can just find the courage to watch the show!

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. I just signed on the the website for "The Doctors" ( and suggested they produce a show "The Truth About Diabetes". If enough people vote for the idea, we may be able to disseminate the right information. Go to the "Produce the Show" section and search for that title.
Ugh! I can't stand Dr. Oz.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I wouldn't expect anything less than sensationalism from Oprah. Remember, us Type 1 diabetics are a rare breed. We're not the epidemic here. And since there is absolutely no proven way to prevent autoimmune/Type 1 diabetes as of yet, there is no public teaching to be done.

I think Dr. Oz was doing us a FAVOUR by saying that Type 1 is "genetic" and we were "born with it". That's a simple way for the ignorant public to understand that Type 1 diabetes (autoimmune diabetes) is not currently preventable and we didn't do this to ourselves. I learned early on that telling people "I was born with it" shuts them up better than " autoimmune process, which is partly due to a genetic disposition along with an environmental trigger killed my beta cells..." and watch their eyes glaze over while they ask me "should you be eating that"...

Try saying "I was born with it" and you'll see what I mean. For those of us who complain about dealing with ignorance all day, we can't have it both ways. The general public is too stupid or not interested to hear about disease pathology, all they need to know is that we didn't cause this.

And in the case of Type 2, YES, most cases CAN be prevented, delayed, or controlled well with lifestyle changes. Who care if you have the genetics? We know the disease trigger in most cases! Type 2 has only become an epidemic since obesity and poor diet/lifestyle choices became common. The only people I know that couldn't go off Type 2 diabetes medication with weight loss and diet changes were thin "Type 2s" who actually had MODY or adult onset Type 1 diabetes, and were misdiagnosed.

It's important to distinguish "born with it" from "usually gave it to yourself" as people won't fund Type 1 research if they think this is a disease we caused that is easy to manage and will never lead to anything serious as long as we take some insulin each day. Yeah right.

Thumbs down to Oprah, but I never expected the show to be about us anyway. :(

Unknown said...

Bottom line is the medical comunity needs to re-classify Type 1 Diabetes altogether, call it something else!
*Type 1 diabetes is is AUTOIMMUNE disorder.
*Type 2 is a METABOLIC disorder. Yes, there are those misbehaved Type 2's who don't follow Dr's orders/suggestions & become Type 1 but are they a 'true' type 1's? No!
After 13 years of living with my pal diabetes I've decided not to get frustrated or angry when people make dumb comments. They are uneducated just like I was until I was diagnosed. I just live my life and when someone makes a comment I politly give them my hour speech on the differnece and they seem to never make a dumb comment again :)
Great You tube video "Diabetes Police"