Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sugar and Spice

So it's happened..a Sugar Tax. Let's get this straight at the the outset. It's a good move and the fact that it has happened needs to be applauded.
Yes, on its own, it will do little and needs to be part of a bigger issue; yes, there could be many political reasons why it has happened...but the point is it has happened- and for sure, it's a start.

Whatever your views about them, the campaigns and work done by Jamie Oliver, Aseem Malhotra deserves admiration, even if it maybe grudging, if you aren't their fans. Simon Stevens, again, isn't everyone's cup of tea but with this backing of the sugar tax and prevention programmes, at least, he has shown a commitment to try and do something. One could again argue about impact, suitability, evidence etc but let's take a step back and look around us...obesity is an issue. Not just in the UK, but globally and there is a public health issue at stake. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion but as someone who looks after a lot of Type 2 diabetes patients, their complications and foremost as a parent, well done for it happening.
The next steps will be crucial to see the tangible benefits and there will be a consultation period ( Diabetes UK have already confirmed they will input) to try and ensure no one is disadvantaged by this. The issue? We can't say the system does nothing -then spend energy and time berating them for trying something at least.

Now to an issue which has been a reflection of the times. The media have gone heavy on it...."sugar causes diabetes" and understandably has managed to upset many a folk who once again have felt all diabetes lumped into one.
First- the facts, obesity is linked to Type 2 diabetes, doesn't "cause" it. It certainly doesn't cause Type 1 diabetes, neither does it cause any of the genetic types. It's perhaps a bit easier for me to observe this from a neutral position as I don't have any form of diabetes at the moment but fully appreciate the angst the association it generates.
If you have type 2, the instinctive assumption is you have "too many cakes"...when it may not be factually or scientifically correct. If you have type 1, it certainly is enough to make you angry as for starters it's not something you wanted to happen, then to be painted in same brush understandably riles many a person and carer. If you have a genetic type of diabetes (and some of them don't even need treatment) you can only sigh.

However, maybe it isn't right to blame the media. They catch on to perception that exists- or perhaps allowed to exist by many. Patients try their utmost but my question is what the NHS does to allay that opinion. Let's look at some things...let's say the "National Diabetes Prevention Programme". In its own, a laudable project but where is the distinction? For anyone who hasn't read medicine etc, the message is diabetes is preventable, isn't it? If we are saying Type 2 is preventable, why haven't we,as a system, specified that?
Where were all the big guns of diabetes care when the name came along? Did they forget to represent all the other types? For that matter, where indeed was I? The fault may not be with others.

How about the title of "National Clinical Director of Diabetes & Obesity"? Again, a great role and some amazingly laudable work being done...but if I was a media person, is it too much to make the association that diabetes and obesity are interchangeable? We, as a system, accepted that, so why blame media now? You can call them ill informed but much much before that, the misinformation sits with us,as providers and commissioners, it's about language, it's about responsibility and it's about doing what is right.

In 2016, my attitude has been pretty simple...let's try together. If mistakes are made, correct them as best as you can, but most importantly? Let's work as a collective. We, as specialists, are the sole voice within the system to improve things. It should be patients but unfortunately it's still a rarity. We have perhaps moved from the total disregard to a cursory presence on some boards. The David Gilbert's in the world are rare, and more strength to them in their efforts but we have a job to help as well as be the advocate for patients, help with the misconceptions being cleared, help with raising awareness.

Much to be done and it's time to be calm, work together and do so one step at a time. It's going to hard, it's going to take time but I am not planning on going anywhere in a rush.To all those with Type 1 diabetes and/or their carers, I can't say I feel your pain when obesity and diabetes is mentioned in the same breath. But I do see the visible angst and I get it why it's the case. Work with me, Pratik, Emma...we are trying..give us time and stand by us.

I have a feeling times are changing ...I genuinely do. So let's keep the collective...strong. 

1 comment:

  1. "It should be patients but unfortunately it's still a rarity" Cannot argue with that, which is why I wrote this However, I disagree that use are a sole voice and use cannot achieve what needs to be achieved without the support of the general public

    However, by working together i.e.. use informing us from the inside, we are in a very strong position to then drive forward the campaign from the outside

    I would encourage you to connect with at least our event this coming Saturday entitled "The wilful destruction of our NHS" where our keynote speakers Dr Bob Gill, Dr Lucy Reynolds and a member of the 999 call for the NHS will expose in detail the road to privatisation and how we have got here, as well as what the governments future plans are. The event will be streamed live from 12noon to 2.30pm and streamed live at

    Even if you cannot connect with this one, details of all our events are available at We have a common goal and it is only by, as you rightly point out, working together, that this will ever be achieved

    My name is Damien Quigg and I am the founder of Redesigning Democracy UK, a grassroots movement of people permanently living in the UK, who believe our political system isn't working as it should for the vast majority of the British people, is undemocratic and in dire need of change

    As well as our series of events, plans are afoot to launch a new internet radio station, where we could interview on a 1-1 basis, people like yourself, our junior drs and use that as a forum for getting your message out

    If you wish to speak to me, my email is