The other night my son and I were sitting at the kitchen table working on an essay about stem cell research. My young son would rather have been doing anything else but working on this topic so his mind and his mouth constantly wandered to strange new topics. In an attempt to steer him back to the subject at hand, we discussed the use of stems cells in diabetes research.
Out of nowhere he comes up with the idea that people who develop diabetes have had too much sugar and thus "caused" their diabetes.
I replied with my usual "Yes, I force fed you chocolate bars at two and gave you spiked your bottle with nothing but sugar water until finally I succeeded in giving you diabetes."
He looked at me a little strange and I finally replied "Are you crazy?"
His response was "Well, everyone says that if you eat a lot of sugar you get diabetes. They must be talking about Type 2 I guess."
I suddenly shifted gears. He was no longer just goofing around. For some reason he was actually thinking this is true. He asked why "everyone" would say this if there was not some truth in it. I didn't have an answer. I gave him my standard spiel on genetics and how it plays a role in those developing Type 2 diabetes. I told him the benefits of eating healthy for everyone and most especially those who could be prone to develop diabetes.
The conversation continued as he noted that his brother's children could end up with diabetes now that he had added the genetic component to their gene pool. He didn't think that that was fair. I explained that nothing was a given in his own children or his brother's potential off-spring.
We finally moved back around to finishing his paper and establishing his position but the conversation left me a little taken aback. My son, who has lived with Type 1 diabetes since he was two years old, is thin, has always eaten in a very health conscious manner, rarely eats sweets, and has been educated by his mother on the realities of diabetes and the fact that this is not his fault, had begun to question his role in this horrible disease. That scared me. If he can be sucked into the vacuum of misinformation, what in the world are we going to do about John Q Public who does not have the benefit of a D-parent?