Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Diet Drink Awareness Campaign


Someone on the diabetes support forum expressed their anger at being sold full-sugar coke in a pub despite asking for the ‘diet’ version. Now, this may seem like an unfortunate, but not particularly dangerous thing to do. In the majority of cases, that’s probably true, if a person is merely trying to reduce calories. But if you have diabetes then there is a real risk that it could cause serious harm, or at the very least make the person feel very unwell. Full-sugar coke is the kind of drink you might reach for if your blood glucose levels were particularly low (hypoglycaemia) and you needed an instant boost, for the sugar hits your system almost instantly.

However, imagine the scenario where a person with diabetes has been feeling under the weather. Illness – even a mild cold or cough – can cause blood sugar levels to rise, and as they rise the body will feel the need to flush the excess sugar out of the system, making the person dehydrated and thirsty. Let’s say this person then tries to quench that thirst with a drink from a pub or fast-food restaurant – and they are given the wrong kind, whether mistakenly, or as some sort of ‘joke’. Their already high levels will almost instantly go stratospheric and place them in extreme danger of a life-threatening condition called DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis). This can lead to hospitalisation, possible coma and even death. Not so ‘funny’ now then?

Numerous tales have now arisen about this happening, so it is not a rare occurrence. Whilst it may often be a mistake, there have also emerged tales of how staff have deliberately switched the hoses on the drink dispensers so the full sugar version is dispensed from the ‘diet’ tap. We need to raise awareness of the dangers of this practice so it can be treated with the gravity it deserves. To this end, we have started a Facebook group ‘The Diet Drink Awareness Campaign’, so anyone reading this please join and lend your support. One member of the forum has approached the agent of Dom Littlewood (of BBC ‘The One Show’ fame). Dom has Type 1 diabetes himself so hopefully he will feel this is an issue he would like to help with. Watch this space!



‘Here’s a laugh – let’s see their face,
Those fussy patrons of this place!’
‘It must be diet’ – where’s the harm?
How could sugar cause alarm?
It’s just a prank, a jolly jape,
It’s hardly murder, theft or rape!

No, that’s not true you stupid man!
There’s every chance that sugar can
Make diabetics very ill
And even a risk that it could kill,
You’ve never heard of DKA?
I’ll just explain it if I may…

Imagine someone who is cursed
With sickness and a raging thirst –
Their levels are already high,
Your ‘joke’ will send them through the sky!
And poisons build up in their blood
Since they don’t know your drink’s no good.

This isn’t just some petty fad,
A vanity that sugar’s bad,
But represents a threat to life
As deadly as a gun or knife!
So find another form of ‘joke’
That can’t cause harm to innocent folk!

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