Mouthful of Mars Bars – by Olly Double


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I recently found myself onstage, with five fun-sized Mars Bars in my mouth. I had shoved them in there one by one for the amusement of the audience at the student stand-up comedy show that I was compèring. I’m not especially proud of this stunt. There was some kind of thin, half-thought-out comic premise behind it, but to be honest, most of the laughter and applause came from the students’ delight at seeing one of their lecturers – a man in his late 40s – filling his mouth with so much chocolate and caramel that he was on the verge of gagging.

As I was stoking my oral cavity with the bars, one would-be wit in the audience heckled: ‘Aren’t you worried about diabetes?’

I wanted to say:

‘Hold on right there. Do you mean type 1 or type 2 diabetes? Because both of my kids have type 1, and we get pretty sick of the media misrepresenting their condition. Nobody fully understands the causes of type 1, but what we do know is that it’s got absolutely nothing to do with diet or lack of exercise. It’s got a genetic component and an environmental one, but nobody quite knows how they actually cause the condition.

‘But what I do know is that when we hear news reports or public debates or health-related features on daytime television about unhealthy lifestyles, it’s incredibly annoying when they talk about how these lead to diabetes, without distinguishing between type 1 and type 2. It means that when we tell people that both of our children have diabetes, they occasionally say things like, “Well, my children won’t become diabetic, because I never let them eat sweets.” They really think that we brought about Joe’s and Tom’s diabetes by letting them endlessly stuff their faces with sugary crap. What kind of parents do they think we are?

‘But then again, I’ve blogged about people’s ignorance about the difference between type 1 and type 2, and I had some responses from people with type 2 diabetes who were understandably annoyed by being tarred with the unhealthy lifestyles brush. It’s true that being overweight can be a major factor in type 2, but another major factor is genetic. So it’s possible to be fit and healthy and still have the ill fortune to develop it.

‘Come to think of it, where does this desire to blame the victims come from anyway? Why do we feel the need to bypass our compassion circuits by telling ourselves, “Don’t worry about that fatty with a chronic health condition, it’s his/her fault he/she got it. She shouldn’t have sat on the sofa all day eating Pringles and chocolate Hobnobs washed down with 2-litre bottles of Lilt.”

‘Come on, everybody! Whether type 1 or type 2, diabetes can be a hell of a cross to bear, and nobody, but nobody deserves it!’

Unfortunately I couldn’t say any of this, as my mouth was crammed full with fun-sized Mars Bars.

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