One, two, shhhh, she’s counting. Ariel runs, tiny legs waddling across pavement, her chubby fingers barely able to grasp her daily Pepsi, she runs. Poison in hand, smile on face, looking for hiding spots, three. Ariel stops, she takes a sip. She’s already consumed 1460 sodas in her lifetime, she’s 5. She runs, inhaling deeply as her lungs try to catch up with her feet.advertisement - learn more
Kayla’s 35, 4, 5, she counts the lights hanging from the hospital roof as she’s rushed to surgery, they flicker above her as she tries to remember every memory she’s ever had involving her feet, but her mind won’t let her wander from this moment, this second, this flickering light, a hush whisper, the last moment she’ll have with her feet. She blames it on her diabetes, as if this disease has a mind of its own. Doctors blame it on the 4410 Pepsis she’s been drinking since childhood.
Little Ariel can barely spell, she’s 6, and knows nothing about fructose or dextrin but neither does Kayla. Beaten, living in a broken home, she just keeps trying to find pieces of herself at the end of that bottle. Ariel only knows the sizzle of bubbles, the aches she feels in her tummy, the big words doctors use to describe her condition. They tell her mom that her kidneys are failing, her blood sugar is too high, the pain she feels that mommy can’t fix because mommy’s been surviving off of ramen and sodas because mommy can barely afford to live.
Kayla sits back in her wheelchair trying to look over her stomach but she can’t. She can’t see the stumps, the spaces where her feet used to be, she can’t see herself, when she looks at the reflection staring back at her she’s just a person she turned into but she can’t stop, bottle after bottle she can’t stop, 6, 7. When Ariel turns 7 they see her dying behind overstuffed teddy bears and deflated balloons, it was her birthday. 8, 9, I’ve heard of death before, but I swear, there’s something foreign about the way it creeps to the lips of a 7-year-old, 10.
Every 10 seconds someone dies from diabetes, and in the time it’s taken me to recite this poem, 15 people will die.
This haunting spoken word poem comes from The Bigger Picture, an organization spreading diabetes awareness.
I cried when I watched this video. A frightening reality planted itself in front of me as I remembered that my own grandmother had passed away from type 2 diabetes almost 20 years ago. She spent her last years injecting multiple daily insulin shots, in and out of a hospital bed 300 kilometres away from her hometown. I remember my mother telling me that Nan used to drink a lot of soda.
The implications of a disease are hard to fully grasp unless you or someone you love has suffered through it. But even more horrifying than my Nan’s sole story is the fact that type 2 diabetes is a reality for millions of people worldwide at this very moment. In America alone, over 29 million people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012. It stands as the seventh leading cause of death in that country.
Think About the Sugar You Consume
According to these statistics, Americans consume close to 50 billion liters of soda per year, which equates to about 216 liters, or about 57 gallons, per person. That is a colossal amount of sugar. And not just any sugar, but some of the worst we know of — high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Tragically, high fructose corn syrup, in the form of soda, has become the number one source of calories in the United States, and it is very clear that it is the primary cause of the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic.
Soda companies are masters at fooling customers and masking their products as fun, cool, and delicious. Take this commercial, for example:
The “Thin Line” spoken poem not only exposes the hard reality of type 2 diabetes, it also brings attention to the specific socio-economic demographic that is commonly affected by this disease:
“Nearly 1 in 2 children of color born in the year 2000 will get diabetes in their lifetime.”
The truth is that most low-income families often end up spending what little they have on these junk food products because they don’t have access to healthier options. The consequences are heartbreaking and pretty terrifying. With the ever-increasing cost of living and declining wages, more and more families are being forced into poverty as the middle class is being eradicated.
To some, it may seem like common sense to stray far away from high-fructose corn syrup sodas, but a large majority of the population is not properly educated on the implications of poor nutrition, with a vast percentage of these people being low-income families.
If someone you know consumes soda on a regular basis, be the one to supply them with the facts they need to know. Soda is an empty, modified can of death.
Raise your voice today and join the conversation about type 2 diabetes.
Much love <3
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