As I fired up my Twitter account this evening because of the conversation flitting around social media about the comments you had made about 'diabetes', I was intrigued about what you could possibly have said to rile a whole community so.
I navigated your Twitter feed and could see that many had not seen the item on today's 'The Wright Stuff, show which had sparked such controversy. You invited the diabetes 'trolls' (as you referred to them) to go and watch it, so I did.
Which part was it, exactly, that you wanted me to watch before making any ill-informed remarks? I don't intend to put forward any fallacious points so please, let me be sure we are on the same page. Was it the part where you asked, "Does every little child deserve a tooth-rotting, diabetes-triggering chocolate egg at Easter?". Or was it the phone-in during which regular insinuations were made that chocolate Easter eggs could, according to your opening link, 'trigger diabetes'. Which ever part it was, I watched it.
It doesn't surprise me when people ask me if I got diabetes from eating too many sweets as a child, because most of the world is poorly educated on the subject of type 1 diabetes. It saddens me. It saddens me immeasurably - but it doesn't surprise me. Truth be known, I am not someone who usually alights my soap box and gets all together vocal about this issue because I understand completely why they don't: their lives have not been touched - or devastated - by type 1 diabetes. What do I know about sickle cell anaemia? Nothing. What do I know about Leukaemia? Nothing. What do I know about multiple sclerosis? A little, because my life has been touched by it. But then Matthew, I am not the host of a current affairs television programme which invites the viewer to join in and broaden their minds. Neither are the people who make their badly thought-out and even more poorly delivered comments to me in their attempt to sound interested in something they can see affects my life so greatly.
Perhaps I am not giving you enough credit, Matthew. Because it seems highly unlikely to me that you find yourself scrolling through hours of peer-supported reviews and up-to-the-minute publications of an afternoon, in order to prepare the auto-cue wording for your daily show. I find it much more likely that someone on your production team does this. Sadly, that person has failed to do their job to even the most basic of standards. Had they searched the Internet for even 10 minutes they would have been able - very clearly, very easily, and with great accuracy - to understand that chocolate does not cause type 1 diabetes. In fact Matthew, according to the Guardian article you posted on Twitter in an attempt to back up your 'argument', it does not cause type 2 diabetes either: sugar may be linked to Type 2 diabetes, chocolate is not. And neither is linked to type 1.
It is a sad indictment of our society that a current affairs show with you at the helm, can make such a foolish, careless and stigma-laden comment. But perhaps the saddest thing of all is that when you were challenged on Twitter and asked to recognise the seriousness of type 1 diabetes, and in doing so think about the way you might feel if it was your own child carrying the wildly-inaccurate but oft-used label, your response was "I can think of worse". Yes Matthew, I imagine there are worse things than type 1 diabetes. I imagine holding your dying child in your arms is worse. I imagine Gerry and Kate McCann would give anything to have Madeleine back, even with diabetes. But does that in any way diminish the devastation that type one diabetes can have on whole families? Do you know what that diagnosis really means? Do you understand the dangers complications and minute-by-minute attempts to manage it? Do you understand the way a parent feels when their child is labelled as having 'deserved' their type 1 diabetes, because mainstream media continues with such vigour to report this utterly erroneous nonsense? I doubt it.
And let me tell you this, perhaps the greatest irony of all in your item today; chocolate is good for people with type 1 diabetes. In fact, it is an extremely useful tool in the diabetes arsenal. You see, the fat in chocolate causes a slow, steady and reliable release of the energy within the snack; something diabetes specialists know, and now recommend as a snack for anyone whose blood sugars have a tendency to drop at a certain time of day.
In fact Matthew, having watched the show, seen the tweets and really thought about my response, it is this which I have asked myself the most: why even mention diabetes? Neither type 1, nor 2, was a discussion point of the item. Neither one is linked to eating Easter egg chocolate (which has about as much 'sugar' in it as a bowl of fruit and yogurt). And neither one would have made the piece about Easter eggs and whether or not they should be given to children, any more relevant.
What it did achieve was to demonstrate that The Wright Stuff is willing to use a medical condition - one fraught with stigma, misrepresentation and which (quite clearly) not enough is known about - as a way of making somewhat mundane links sound sexier.
Sadly, my only experience of your show will be both my first, and last.