Being fat doesn't give you diabetes

I can see from the amount of pushback I get from this on the regular that it needs to be said, and keep being said--


Being fat doesn't give you diabetes.

Yes, even type 2 diabetes. 

There is a cultural idea that diabetes is the punishment fat people get for being fat, because being fat is such a horrible character defect that there has to be a karmic punishment.

Fat people deserve to be punished, says our society, and diabetes is right there, just waiting in the wings to be used as a cudgel by the people who already hate and despise a group of people for what they look like.

It reminds me of the very recent past, when gay people were considered by society at large as deviant and disgusting, and AIDS was seen as a punishment for their supposed wickedness.

It's all bullshit. It was bullshit when evangelical Christians were thrilled that gay people were dying from AIDS, and it's bullshit when fatphobes are thrilled about imagining fat people's in pain and suffering from diabetes.

Ok, so those people- the people who glorify in the suffering of people they consider "bad"- we all know those people are assholes. 

In addition to being first-rate jackwagons, these people are buying into the just world fallacy, which is a belief in a fair world- that good actions result in good outcomes and that bad people get what's coming to them.

Per Wikipedia- "This belief generally implies that in the existence of cosmic justice... and has high potential to result in fallacy, especially when used to rationalize people's misfortune on the grounds that they "deserve" it."

I'm sorry to have to be the one to break it to you- but there is no Just World. There is no such thing as fairness. We can agree to try to impose more fairness on an unfair world, but the world is not fair. 

Bad people win. Good people suffer. There is no cosmic balancing of the scales, and I think we all know that- because I think we all know at least one person who very much did not get what they deserved, for good or for ill. 

This is part of being an adult- letting go of the fantasy of a child, that somehow, at the end of the day, it will all be put right. 

It won't. Not unless WE choose to put it right, as best as we can, with the understanding that some things can't be made right.

So putting the question of "deserving" aside- everyone knows that being fat means you get diabetes, right? That eating sugar gives you diabetes? 

Nope. Even the American Diabetes Association- not an org exactly known for their positive stance towards fat people- lists both of these under myths


They aren't true, y'all. 

You can be thin and get type 2 diabetes. And you can be fat your whole life and never get diabetes. 

What causes diabetes? Well, one study showed that of children "nearly all (85%) of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes had a first- or second-degree relative with type 2 diabetes, they said, illustrating the high genetic risks associated with this condition".

Twin studies have shown that there is among identical twins, if one twin has type 2 diabetes, the chance that the other will get it is 70%.

And there are an actual fuckton of genetic factors in this book from the National Institutes of Health

So genetics. What about environmental factors? If your mother lived through a famine while pregnant with you- you could be more likely to develop diabetes. This Chinese population study shows a link to low birth weight and later diabetes. 

But I live in sinful (gluttony), wasteful America- how could this apply to me? Well, we're living in a world where pregnant people are told to lose weight while they're pregnant.  

The body doesn't know the difference between a voluntary famine and an involuntary one. 

This list of environmental factors goes on- gestational diabetes, pesticides, that BPA stuff in plastic... 

Here's the short version of why people get diabetes-- it has something to do with genetics, but also we don't know. 

I know that "everybody knows" you get diabetes from being fat, but I have found as I do more research in general (not just about fatness) that the things that "everybody knows" should always be suspect.

The stuff "everybody knows" is often wrong. And when it isn't just flat out wrong, it's oversimplified to the point that it might as well be wrong. 

Am I saying that fatness has nothing to do with diabetes? No, not really. I am saying that we don't know what the connection is and that saying that it's a one to one relationship- Be Fat = Get Diabetes- is bordering on laughable ignorance.

I mean, it would be laughable, if it wasn't used as a weapon to beat up fat people and to implement invasive policies that make a mockery of the idea of body autonomy.  

Diabetes is being used to further stigmatize a marginalized group. This is not the first time, either. Historically, diabetes was known as "the Jewish disease".

"For hundreds of years it was understood as being transmitted within specific groups... such as blacks and Jews... Even Jewish scientists at the turn of the century accepted the racial stigmatization of diabetes. Rather than being seen as a disease of individuals, diabetes was the fault of “the Jews."

"Diabetes was conceptualized as a Jewish disease not necessarily because its prevalence was high among this population, but because medicine, science, and culture reinforced each other..."

"Today, US government sources inform us that Native Americans, Blacks, and Hispanics/Latinos run the greatest risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Is it possible that as part of the stress of discrimination and marginalization- the risks of developing diabetes increases? There are studies that indicate that the stress of racism can increase risks of cardiovascular disease.

It seems like there is this circle of stigma leading to illness- leading to being further stigmatized. 

You don't get diabetes from being fat, y'all.  It's more complicated than that. And even if you did- that would be a really shitty reason to treat fat people the way that we do- like we're not even people. 

It's not ok. It's time for that to stop.