- This scientist just got roasted
- Yet more unhelpful headlines about weight and diet
- How to reduce your diabetes risk safely and naturally
Well, that went badly.
Last month, Prof Roy Taylor, from Newcastle University, spoke at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’ annual conference.
In his speech he talked about new data which found that people of ‘normal weight’ with type-2 diabetes could “achieve remission” by losing weight.
I’ve put ‘normal weight’ in inverted commas because that’s already a dodgy term in my book; it implies that people are ‘abnormal’, which leads to horrible psychological issues and potentially fatal body image problems.
Anyway, his suggestion was that if you cannot fit into the same size jeans that you were wearing when you were 21, then you are at risk of type-2 diabetes.
You are “carrying too much fat” he said, bluntly.
His comments hit The Guardian on the 27th September, who used the “fit into the jeans of a 21-year old” headline as clickbait.
And it worked too, unsurprisingly.
After the story broke, it went nuts on social media.
I know this because as soon as I read the offending headline, I KNEW there would be a Twitter storm about it, so I went onto the network to check out the reaction.
Some of the comments rightly pointed out that women naturally change shape as they get older – which is why they don’t (and shouldn’t) fit into their jeans from when they were 21.
Here are two such comments:
“Has he thought about female anatomy at all? Maybe I’m some sort of medical freak, but my hips widened quite significantly in my 20s (I assumed it was biology saying ‘baby time’).”
“I don’t think this particular expert has ever met a woman.”
Others pointed out that thin 21-year-olds are often super unhealthy…
“At 21 I was comfort eating family sized Chicken Tonight and drinking Baileys like water. I don’t class that as my finest time physically.”
“At 21 my diet consisted of cheap lager, whole pizzas, endless junk food and zero workouts and I was very scrawny.”
Some said that they were actually fatter when they were younger (this actually goes for me too – I was a very big bloke when I was a rugby forward in my early 20s).
And others wondered what the practical point of this kind of statement was. Here are two more typical responses:
“Are they suggesting everyone who is larger than they were at 21 goes on a permanent 800 calorie a day liquid diet? Sounds sustainable!”
“Yikes. Not sure these headlines help. Shouldn’t we be focusing on making healthy food cheaper & more accessible & making cities built for daily exercise of walking/cycling.”
My favourite was the comment by the comedy website The Poke, which said:
“People who ‘can’ fit into the jeans they wore aged 21 risk developing severe jaw pain, because they never shut up about it.”
Anyway, as far as I see it, here’s the problem…
Why these headlines are so unhelpful
Looking at it, the data and the science were fine – they were simply looking at links between waist size and risks of diabetes.
But the way that Professor Taylor decided to frame this story, and phrase it in a pithy way, totally backfired.
It was a careless way to communicate – and unnecessary, too.
It’s ridiculous to suggest that we should fit into the same size trousers as we did when we were 21.
People change shape for all manner of reasons and being a bit heavier or wider hipped is nothing to be ashamed of.
Using this kind of language encourages eating disorders or dangerous starvation diets.
And it’s also counterproductive…
Because instead of saying, “You could lose a bit of weight and cut your diabetes risk,” which most people would go along with…
It sounds like they’re saying, “You are doomed if you don’t shed multiple kilos in weight and somehow become a lithe skinny human barely out of their teens.”
These headlines make you feel like you have somehow failed as a human being because you’re not the 21-year-old you.
Even more stupid is the fact that the study has nothing to do with trousers or being the 21-year-old version of yourself – it was just a way that Professor Taylor decided to ‘paint a picture’ of the study’s conclusions.
It’s what you call an ‘artistic response’ to the data – which really isn’t helpful when it comes from a scientist because it erodes trust in the science.
Anyway, if you’re concerned about diabetes, then I’d ignore the media furore and try this instead of a dangerous crash diet…
97 ways to control your blood sugar levels
There is a brilliant book written by Martin Hum, a qualified nutritional therapist with more than 20 years’ experience.
In Diabetes Defeated, he looks at the many nutritional ways to tackle type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome.
This includes the many plants and herbs you can use to make speedy improvements without resorting to medicines. For instance:
- A ‘31-ingredient powerhouse formula’ that can rival diabetes drugs without the side effects.
- An amazing Chinese mushroom which can help control blood sugar… and help protect against heart disease too. These mushrooms contain a secret ingredient which is largely missing from our modern diet.
- A compound which prevents the ageing effects of high blood sugar and any diabetic complications.
- How a noxious weed from South East Asia has got researchers at Harvard Medical School excited about its potential for diabetes sufferers.
- How a fruit used as a medicine by Aztecs over 1,000 years ago is being used to effectively regulate blood sugar, aid weight-loss, lower cholesterol and overcome gastrointestinal disorders.
- A spiky yellow plant extract that’s a rich source of inulin, a carbohydrate-based fibre which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
- How to get rid of dangerous visceral fat around the waist without spending endless hours in the gym.
If you want to know more about it, check this out: Diabetes Defeated
Try that for size and let’s ignore the silly media headlines about trousers for a while, shall we!?