Family Fortunes: the Health Edition – by Helen May


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Ihelen-may-150x150 recently read the results of a survey and it started me wondering how it could be used in a game of Family Fortunes. You know the game show where 100 audience members are asked a question and the families have to guess what the most popular answers were. The questions are typically things like “we asked 100 people to name a breed of dog”, or “we asked 100 people to name their favourite colour” or “we asked 100 people to name a song by Barry Manilow”.

I started to wonder if we could have a health edition of the show. We could ask questions like “we asked 100 people to name a healthy food item” or “we asked 100 people to name a symptom of Diabetes” or “we asked 100 people to name the condition they would be most worried about if they or a family member were diagnosed with it.”

This last question was posed in a survey of 2000 people recently. The results included Cancer, Stroke and Dementia. Way way way down at the bottom of the list, in seventh place, with 1% was Diabetes. The question was also posed as “name the top three conditions you would be most worried about if they or a family member was diagnosed with”. Diabetes was again at the bottom of the list: only 12% of people were worried about being diagnosed Diabetes and two other conditions.

Thinking about Family Fortunes where, usually, only the top six answers are revealed, Diabetes would not be on the board. The fact that Diabetes barely features in this sort of survey again highlights to me, that there is a lot of ignorance around about the condition. As someone with the Diabetes who reads about it, I am amazed that so few people worried about it.

Is it because they don’t think it would affect them? With nearly four million people in the UK with Diabetes (that’s one in sixteen people), most people will know someone with Diabetes. So I would be surprised  if 2000 people think it could never happen to them or a family member.

So, perhaps it is because they don’t think Diabetes is very serious. And when you consider the media, perhaps that is less surprising. Given so much of the press inches is made up of celebrity news, I was thinking about the times celebrity illness is mentioned in the press. We read about the occasional celebrity with Diabetes and usually with the story of how much they continue to do with Diabetes.  However, when we read about famous people with cancer, unfortunately, it is usually that they have died (or are terminally ill) with cancer. So, if you don’t die of Diabetes, what is there to worry about? You just inject a few times a day, stop eating sugar and then carry on with your life. Don’t you?

The problem with surveys like this is these conditions are thought of in isolation. For example, it is not taken into consideration that having Diabetes increases the possibility of suffering from a Stroke or Dementia or Cancer. Diabetes is only thought of in terms of the treatment of the condition. It is not thought of in terms of the resulting complications.

Perhaps we need to go back to our Health Edition of Family Fortunes and ask 100 people to “name the possible complications of Diabetes”. Once they know the answer to this, they may come up with a different answer to the question to  “name the condition they would be most worried about if they or a family member were diagnosed with it.”

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