Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh No, Oprah!

Do I dare even attempt a post about the Oprah Show on diabetes?  I guess I'm still coming to terms with all the emotions that welled up within me while watching it.  Yes.  I'm going to attempt it.

First of all, this episode needed a warning.  I have been a pretty avid fan of hers.  And normally when there is a tough topic, she warns us.  The images of an amputee's mangled limbs were fairly gruesome.  My oldest was sitting with me and it was difficult for me to watch this.  And the title,  Diabetes:  America's Silent Killer...uh, seriously?  C was not in the house at the time, but I can imagine how a little kid with diabetes would feel if they happened to hear that on television!  Just had to get those two issues off my chest...

The show itself was about type 2 diabetes.  That was plain and simple...well, simple if you know anything about diabetes.  But, as we all sadly realize, the general public does NOT know the difference.  It was never explained clearly.  The tiny bit of information shared regarding type 1 was absolute nonsense in my book.  It was Oprah who tried to differentiate between the two at a couple times in the beginning of the episode.  But that was it for type 1.  The show's title should have been called Diabetes:  Type 2 Only.

As far as I am aware, Dr. Oz is a heart surgeon.  I know Oprah calls him America's Doctor, but really, his expertise lies in cardiology.  How difficult would it have been to get an endocrinologist to be on the show.  I nominate the famous doctor, Dr. Francine Kaufman.  I mean, really, how hard is it to find a type 1 person living a wonderful, healthy life?  I know a bunch of them.  And then, there's the part of the population that was completely over-looked in this segment...children.  I know CHLA alone (Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles) services over 2,000 type 1 kids.  As a family, whose lives are affected 24/7 by diabetes...I felt ignored, alone...again.

So, according to the doctor, these four things are the causes of diabetes:  1. excessive belly fat  2. a sedentary lifestyle  3. a family history  4. smoking.  I want so badly for him to see a picture of my 8 year old daughter. She has diabetes...She is definitely not over weight. She is quite active. There is no family history. And, as far as we know, she doesn't smoke. What do you think of that, Dr. Oz? Why was type 1 diabetes so utterly left out of the show?

Worse than ignoring the entire type 1 population was the blatent misinformation that was aired.  The following were the statements that bothered me most:

  • How many times did they refer to diabetes being preventable and/or reversible?  I lost track.  Even fitness/diet expert, Bob Greene chimed in with his statement that diabetes is preventable.  Of course he wanted to plug his book, "The Best-Life Guide to Managing Diabetes & Pre-Diabetes." 

  • Dr. Oz stated that diabetes is "almost always reversible." 

  • Bob Greene claimed the key is cider vinegar.  It changes the glycemic index of any food.  Why has our endo never told us about this?!

  • Straight from Dr. Oz:  "At the end of the day, the amount of insulin you gotta take depends on how bad your diabetes is."
I know that type 2 diabetes can be controlled through oral meds sometimes and that better diet and exercise can, in fact help a type 2 step away from that diagnosis.  But, this show was so disheartening to watch.  I know that a lot of the DOC folks are with me on this.  I feel so deflated as I write this post.  Wasn't it just 3 months ago, during "Diabetes Awareness Month" that we were fired up and trying to dispel the myths surrounding diabetes?  I wanted to educate people about it, for my daughter's sake.  Today, Oprah's show took awareness 10 giant steps back.

I am truly dissappointed in the irresponsibility of airing that show.  I love Oprah.  She has a platform like no other.  Maybe she will surprise us in her final season, hear our cries and actually cover the reality of diabetes.

The only redeeming value from the show is that of Walgreens' generosity.  Tomorrow, you can go into any Walgreens pharmacy and get a blood glucose test...for free.  Call 1-800-WALGREENS for one near you!


  1. Great Post Nancy, it was so depressing watching that show and thinking of our little girls. God forbid C was home and heard that on the TV, shame on Oprah and Dr. Oz needs to head back to school or stick with hearts, he is not "America's Doctor" since he is certainly NOT mine or Lane's.

  2. I totally agree! so disheartening, a big opportunity was missed to educate. I'm type1 for 42 years and my husband is type2. The show did a great job of confusing and blaming PWDs

  3. Thanks for a great post and sharing your feelings. I taped the show and watched it last a diabetes educator for > 30 years (not a person w/ diabetes), I had a number of similar feelings. I really agree with a few of your comments: 1) Bob Greene and the cider vinegar comment? PLEASE! Let's not add to the misinformation about nutrition and diabetes. Where did Bob Greene get all his diabetes/nutrition education? 2) Dr Oz - provided nothing but confusion - TOTALLY AGREE, 3) Also was an appalling shame to use the woman on dialysis and amputee to present type 1 and even at that they were never clear that she had type 1 - but if you know diabetes you put the pieces together and figured it out.
    Walgreens - not so sure I agree. I think people should have been encouraged to take the ADA risk test, get an A1C taken (the new ADA recommendation for dx). Reality is that screening is only step 1. The problem/challenge is knowing what to do next. Also it's reported (USA Today - 2/4) that Walgreens is providing "diabetes education" - excuse me, but "diabetes education" is not a sheet of paper and 3 minutes (at best) with a HCP who is most likely not a CDE.
    I too think Oprah is terrific and REALLY was looking for much more than this from her and her producers.
    Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE

  4. I have yet to watch the show. It's still sitting on my box waiting for me to get to courage to put it on.

    I was talking with Tristan's teacher yesterday who just happened to watch the Oprah "diabetes" show.... guess what?..... she had no idea that a lot of the information was inaccurate... I had to correct her! Thanks a lot Oprah!

    I love the picture of C :)

  5. Beautiful pic of C! I have to admit. I still haven't watched the show, yet:( I think i'm going to pass. Great post! You go girl! Tell it like it is!


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