Chocolate Diddlers & Diabetes

Recently, the CBS show Two and a Half Men had a great episode entitled, "Chocolate Diddlers or My Puppy's Dead."

One scene in the beginning brings diabetes into the script, weaving both humor and mis-information that I thought needed to be written about.

As the clip is central to the point of my post, I've included a link below. The only one I could find is the full episode online at the CBS site, and unfortunately you have to wait through a couple commercials totalling about a minute until you get to the scene at issue. But specifically, the point you want starts about 6:45. I recommend starting at 4:45 to get the full scene putting the song into context.

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"C is for chocolate, D's diabetes. Do your kids a favor, and buy a box of Wheaties. Chocolate Diddlers YAY!"

Personally, I got a kick out of this. I'm a huge fan of the show and we record and watch it religiously every week, always maintaining a theme of laughter during the episode.

I loved the song and thought it was hilarious, but even with that I found myself wondering outloud: "I love the beat, but honestly I think I'm supposed to not like what that song is about." Funny as hell, but spreading myths and misinformation... Hmm.

Basically, the song is saying that chocolate is bad and causes diabetes, and so parents should avoid this chocolate cheerio like cereal for the good of their kids' health and go with something healthier, like Wheaties.

That's just not the case. But how can you be mad at Charlie Sheen's song or the writers' use of it on a show that's so freakin' funny? Where is the line?

We Type 1 diabetics and our caregiving Type 3s know that it's not a matter of just "avoiding sugar" in preventing diabetes. Those of us diagnosed as kids, many of us heard and felt the blame from non-diabetics and the general public about how we somehow "caused" our diabetes. The fact that this is an autoimmune chronic condition not associated with weight, lifestyle, or eating habits is too often lost on the general public. Though Type 2 is a different animal that sometimes does involve lifestyle habits such as eating and exercise, that is not specifically the cause and not always the case and it's not commonly the issue with most Children With Diabetes. Basically, it's not a matter of just "avoiding sugar," as Charlie's song implies.

Am I off on this? Am I seeing this with a biased foundation, as someone who has grown up with Type 1 and have that history of being accused of causing this by eating candy or too much sugar? Is this song actually spreading a myth, or is that a stretch that I should just get over - look at the comedy rather than the message?
In this case, it seems to me that Two and a Half Men is spreading a misconception. Despite all the humor and the fact I found it pretty darn funny, even now, I think some advocacy is in order.

So, I'm going to write a letter and see where it goes.

What do you think?


Anonymous said…
I totally agree! I have also experienced this type of attitude from people regarding my type 1 diabetes (which I was diagnosed with age 6). It's due to pure ignorance, misinformation and lack of knowledge on their part. But it's so frustrating. People hear the word 'Diabetes' and they immediately think of an unhealthy lifestyle, overindulgence in junk food and sugary snacks, weight issues, etc. One particular incident in a school science class (when I was 14) sticks out in my memory. The teacher, who knew I had diabetes, was doing a lesson about different organs in the body and when it came to the pancreas, he used me as an example "Aisling's pancreas no longer produces enough insulin. She has diabetes because she ate too many sugary things and junk food, and didn't exercise enough when she was younger..." I was embarrassed, humiliated and raging with anger. I protested and said "No, that's what can cause type 2 diabetes in some people but I have type 1 diabetes, which is different, it's an auto-immune thing." All the other students in my class were looking at me and almost laughing at me, perhaps imagining me as a former "fat kid" or something (which I have never been by the way!) The teacher tried to show he was right by saying "Excuse me, I'm the teacher here and I can assure you I know what causes diabetes." So I answered him (as calmly as I could, given the situation by saying "Well excuse me, I'm the type 1 diabetic here and I know what causes it so I'm not going to stay in this class while you misinform people..." And I stood up, and walked out of the science lab, and left him standing there in front of the other students with his mouth hanging open in shock (I was a straight A student who never acted out of line in any teacher's class). But he made me so mad, and humiliated me in front of my friends and in front of some students who may well have used his misinformation as an excuse to bully me and make my life hell at school... I had to make a point! I went home that day and told my mother exactly what had happened. She was so angry with him, but also so proud of me for walking out of the class. She wrote him a letter and enclosed an information leaflet on TYPE 1 Diabetes and although he never put right what happened that day, I felt so much better. He knew he was wrong! Needless to say, he never referred to me when the topic of diabetes arose in his lessons again!
Unknown said…
Agreed. Although, I am all for humor and laughs and fun, I think little slips of misinformation here and there continue to perpetuate myths. Unfortunately, they add up over time and we are left with the resulting mis-informed general public.

I have been stopped at the fair for giving Joe cotton candy. A friend could not believe I was giving my "diabetic son cotton candy." I went on to explain.. 'autoimmune disorder...he can eat long as I match it with is the fair afterall...he deserves to be able to enjoy it as all kids do...blah...blah...blah'. I don't think I even made a dent in her misinformed-opinions. UGH.

Your letter may help the writers of the show be more sensitive to diabetes and other conditions Mike. Well done.
Tracy1918 said…
The Biggest Loser does the same thing.

This last season, Dr. Huizenga said diabetes can be cured.

I understand that most diabetics are type 2, but it was really irresponsible of him to not distinguish between type 1 and type 2.

Made me really mad. And I don't even get mad!

(I rarely comment, but love reading your blog.)
Becky said…
I am less worried about a single comment in a episode of a sit-com that was not directly about Diabetes than I am about shows Dr. Oz or Oprah that provide mis-information (or at best unclarified or misleading information) about Diabetes without making a distinction. While yes, an off-hand comment like that might stick in someone's mind, I doubt the average person in a T1D conversation would say - "Well, on 2 and 1/2 men, they said chocolate could cause diabetes." ;) - and expect you to take them seriously. HOwever lots of people will say, Well I saw on Oprah, or Dr. Oz, or the doctor on Biggest Loser said "..." So, I think anytime MDs are on TV, they should be very clear to make the distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes because people will believe what they say because of their standing as doctors. Unfortunately, as others have pointed out, Drs can say misleading, ridiculous, or flat-out untrue things on TV and the general public believes it because that is the only education they get about certain medical conditions.
Jonah said…
I'm not worried about this. I don't think they're saying the kids are going to get diabetes while they're still kids from eating crap, they're saying that habitually eating crap will increase risk of diabetes. Not any kind in specific, but the overall risk. And that is accurate. So no worries by me.
My opinion is it's wrong. It's not funny. He specifically mentions kids which I personally relate to type 1 diabetes.

I have a strong bias though.
Anonymous said…
Just to let you know that eating crap and sitting around does NOT cause Type 2 diabetes. Having the genetic propensity for it does. Obesity and sedentary lifestyle do exacerbate the tendency toward Type 2, but it's not even clear whether the Type 2 genes didn't help cause the obesity in the first place.
And there are LOTS more fat couch potatoes who are NOT Type 2, than who are.
Healthy eating and exercise are good for EVERYONE!
Anonymous said…
I really agree with you and like what you said. "C is for chocolate, D's diabetes. Do your kids a favor, and buy a box of Wheaties. Chocolate Diddlers YAY!" I don't have kids, but it also fit for me because I am a diabetic patient and eat a lot of chocolate, which is sugar-free. You may as well like it. Buying a sugar-free chocolate will be better than others. Here is the link of the store where I always brought sugar-free chocolates Now diabetic patient will celebrate their hapiness with the sweets.

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