Reverting to type?

12/06/18 . Blog

We hope you like the material we have produced for Men’s Health Week 2018.

Some people, especially those who know a lot about diabetes, have asked us why we don’t differentiate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

That’s not quite right. We draw the distinction when it is necessary in Diabetes For Men, our new man manual. However, in our posters and social media shares we do tend to talk about diabetes and not mention type. The reason, and this may sound harsh, is that we’re more interested in encouraging men to think about the issue than we are in the medical detail. Of course, the medical detail matters a lot if you are diagnosed with diabetes but most people have not been diagnosed (yet - and we want to keep it that way).

Our view - based on working with a lot of men on a lot of projects and publications - is that people glaze over when you start talking about type 1 and type 2. If not making distinctions, except when absolutely necessary, increases the number of men who read and act on what we say, it is worth it.

Yes, you might say, but that increases the stigma against people with type 1 who have an auto-immune disease which is not their fault. That may be true. But there can only be a stigma against type 1 if you believe there is culpability in type 2. We don’t. Nobody should be blamed for the medical problems they have. I had cancer in my 30s. Did I deserve that because I smoked in my 20s? People with type 2 are often stigmatised and seen as ‘at fault’ for their ‘bad diets’ and ‘unhealthy lifestyles’. It’s hard to see how that helps anybody. A positive message - changing your lifestyle can help you beat diabetes - is preferable to blame.

I’d imagine that anyone with type 1 seeing something like, for example, our ‘are you a sugar addict’ poster - which is very tongue in cheek anyway (nobody snorts sugar like cocaine) - would know that it doesn’t apply to them. True, our research suggests that some men are not as well-informed by their care team as perhaps they should be but I think most know that it’s not the same as type 2. We find that most people with type 1 know what they have and they know better than most what diabetes is like to live with. They don’t mind us playing a bit fast and loose with the subtleties if it prevents other men from getting the condition.

Your views on our approach are very welcome (especially if you're type 1 and aren't sure about it).

Jim Pollard, site editor

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

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