Diabetes is often misunderstood by the common consumer. Often times diabetics are stereotyped as being extremely overweight, inactive, unhealthy eaters. Many do not realize that this common visual is in fact false. Diabetes is not limited to those who struggle with controlling their weight. It can effect anyone, skinny, fat, healthy, or unhealthy in their habits. Chances of contracting this condition are mainly effected by family history and chronic stress, as well as daily living habits. Diabetes is classified as a disease that impairs the body’s ability to absorb sugars in the blood. It can be broken into two types: Type One and Type Two diabetes. Type One diabetic’s have difficulty producing insulin, causing blood sugar levels to rise or fall drastically. Type Two diabetic’s process sugars differently causing their blood sugar levels to fluctuate dangerously. Consumers should not limit their viewpoints of this disease to the stereotype. The photos shown below exemplify common everyday aspects of a diabetic’s life.
The two questions that I chose to address in this photovoice project are:
- What choices do I have?
- Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?
What choices do I have?
Consumers should be aware that diabetics have same choices as them. The difference is that diabetics have to be more aware of their choices and how it may affect their bodies in the long run. A person suffering from diabetes can eat anything that a non-diabetic can, as long as they are aware of the nutritional content of the food and the portion sizes. Being a diabetic does not mean that a consumer is limited in any way. Some people look at diabetes as being a limit upon their lives, but that is very far from the truth. Diabetic consumer have all the same choices that any other consumer has.
Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?
Diabetics must be much more careful in their choices than non-diabetics. Diabetics must keep careful track of calories, carbs, sugars, and fiber. Foods that are higher in calories, carbs, and sugars run the risk of being unhealthy and could negatively affect blood sugar levels. If the levels become erratic or out of control it could pose serious short-term and long-term health risks to the diabetic. It is both easy and difficult to be healthy as a diabetic. On one hand, it is difficult to be healthy as junk food is easy, cheap, and fast to get ahold of. It is an easy go to for many people as a food choice. This choice though, could potentially harm a diabetic and put them at risk for higher blood sugar levels. On the other hand, it is easy to be a healthy diabetic. To be healthy, a diabetic must control portions and eat plenty of healthy fibers to slow the absorption of sugars into the blood stream. Consumers often classify diabetics as being unhealthy when in actuality there are diabetics out there that are healthier than the majority of others. It all boils down to the individuals choices and how they care for themselves.
Prompt: Everyone at some point has wanted to lose weight for one reason or another, but what is the best way to go about this process? Many face this issue everyday, and many more look for the easy road. Many pursue fad dieting such as juicing, liquid diets, high protein diets, and many others. Have you ever tried fad dieting? If so, how did it turn out? The gluten-free fad diet has become a popular trend as of late, but is it truly healthy? Pretend a consumer has asked you about this diet, would you promote it or advise against it?
Answer: As stated in the above prompt, fad dieting has been a popular trend for a number of years. The media has consistently promoted the image of beauty as being thin to consumers. Consumers recognize this as the ideal body image and can sometimes undertake fad dieting to slim down and feel better. Many times consumers diet incorrectly and are actually putting themselves at risk for health problems down the road. As a consumer myself, I have tried my fair share of fad dieting in the past. I have tried juicing, Atkins, and even the no carb diets with minimal success. Often times I would lose the weight but the minute I strayed from the diet the weight came back immediately and usually with a few extra pounds. Fad diets have never worked well with me and I would not recommend them to other consumers. As for the gluten-free dieting I would not recommend it to any consumer that does not have Celiac disease. Celiac is a disease that makes an individual intolerant to gluten, hence the benefit of having gluten-free foods available. Often times gluten-free products ingredients are replaced with substitutes that eliminate gluten from the product, making it safe for persons with gluten intolerance to consume. Consumers should know that just because a product is gluten-free it does not mean that it is any healthier. Gluten-free dieting should not be pursued by anyone who does not require it for health reasons.
- Ghost Writing
- Drug Marketing
- Unapproved drugs
When a consumer needs consultation on a health matter then they are likely to go to their doctor who will likely prescribe the consumer a pharmaceutical to solve their health matter. Consumers ae meant to trust their doctors, but what many consumers do not know is that doctors can be paid to prescribe or promote certain medications. This practice is known as drug marketing. Drug marketing is when drug companies provide perks to doctors such as free food, pay bonuses, and other such incentives to promote doctors to prescribe certain drugs. Drug companies will spend more on marketing than anything else to help promote drug sales. Consumers should be aware of drug marketing and look into drugs before simply agreeing to take them. Consumers should also investigate if their doctor is receiving incentives from drug companies to promote certain pharmaceuticals. Ghost writing is another issue that consumers should be aware of. Medical ghost writers assist physicians and scientists in preparing articles for medical journals. Ghost writers are beneficial in helping busy researchers get articles done in a timely manner allowing the researchers to get back to experimenting quicker. The issue with this practice is that often times drug facts are not always truthful, bad effects can be glossed over or phrased to make them look like they are miniscule or unrelated to the drug at all. Consumers should pay attention to drug details and look closely into effects tied in with pharmaceuticals before taking them. Unapproved drugs have also become an issue that consumers should be aware of. The FDA is meant to regulate drugs by approving the ones that are safe and effective for consumers, but not all marketed over the counter drugs have received FDA approval. This could pose a serious health concern that consumers should know of. Consumers should always check that what they are being prescribed or taking FDA approved pharmaceutical products to ensure that what they are taking is actually safe.
Direct to consumer (DTC) ads are pharmaceutical drug advertisements aimed at consumers rather than doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals. The United States is one of only two countries in the world that allows this type of advertisement. DTC ads are targeted towards vulnerable consumers to promote the sale of prescription drugs. Most consumers have been exposed to these types of advertisements when watching television. The ads are often portrayed in a way that catches attention, highlights the benefits, and quickly glosses over any negative effects. Advertisers will often lie or gloss over unappealing details to get the attention of the subcategory the product is aimed too. This type of advertising puts consumers at risk as they will often see these types of ads, believe this is something that could assist them, and go to their doctor to request it without actually looking into the product. Consumers should be aware of DTC ads and should research the side effects and risks before requesting the drug. Direct to consumer ads also revolve around money, their main goal is to advertise their product to sell it to consumers. Drug companies will often try to curry favor with doctors to get them to prescribe their product. Many DTC ads will have the phrase, “talk to your doctor to see if this product is right for you”. Doctors who partner with drug companies receive bonuses and perks for prescribing these drugs to their patients and are thus more likely to comply with requests for these drugs. DTC ads are something that should be discontinued or a least have stricter rules to abide by to protect vulnerable consumers. The DTC ads might promote profits for pharmaceutical companies, but it puts consumers and doctors at risk as consumers may be prescribed drugs that end up causing them more harm than good.
For my photovoice project I am planning to answer:
- What choices do I have?
- Do I really know what I need to to make a healthy choice?
- Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?
I plan on creating a powerpoint and presenting photos of food, nutritional information, diabetes manuals and other related images. With this project I plan to bring more awareness to consumers about diabetes and some of the myths associated with it. I want to show what diabetes actually is, and how it can limit consumer choices and viewpoints, and why it is so difficult to be healthy as a diabetic.
Consumers are often faced with issues such as illness, long-term care, and death and dying choices, but often times they are unsure what their options are. I recently became employed as an In-Home Care Aid with a company and actually found our states website to be very informative towards my career, and I could easily see it as a valuable resource for consumers looking for information on care resources. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services is a valuable resource for the uninformed consumers of Washington state. Immediately going into the site, it lists links on home and community sources, residential services, long-term care options, the office for the deaf, and provides a link to report instances of adult abuse. The easy to navigate layout of the site is a plus as well as consumers of this site may be older or not as skilled with computers. While the site does have its advantageous parts, there are also gaps in the information provided. Price is the biggest thing missing from the site. There are possible services listed but there are no details on how much those services may cost the individual. This could potentially be problematic for consumers concerned over the monetary aspects of care. Another aspect on the site that is lacking is the exact details of what it takes to qualify for services such as the length of stay required for some of the programs, the visitation during the care, and how good the care actually is. One way to solve this issue is to look up reviews that other consumers have left about the service provider. I would suggest people to consider programs offered by community centers as well. Many local community centers offer area specific programs that lend assistance to those in need of all types of care.
- Moral Licensing
Every consumer is facing the same problems when it comes to food. Hot topics such as nutrition, healthy eating, and the newest celebrity fad diets are popular among consumers of todays society. The question is how much do consumers truly understand about healthy choices when it comes to food. Many consumers do not have a healthy relationship when it comes to food. Terms such as moderation and superfoods are thrown around with abandon. Consumers also face issues with moral licensing, which can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
Many consumers think of moderation as not overeating, but it goes further than that. Moderation is technically an avoidance of extremes, this means too little and too much. Consumers have to understand that moderation is not eating healthy at certain meal and having donuts for breakfast, and a pizza for dinner a few days later because you have been ‘good’. Moderation practices such as this can lead consumers to engage in moral licensing. Many consumers have an unhealthy mental relationship with food, they categorize foods as good or bad when there really is no such thing in food. Consumers who engage in moral licensing will tell themselves, “I can have this pizza because I was good and ate that salad earlier”. This type of thinking becomes a destructive habit, consumers are more likely to eat junk food if they think this way. Consumers should not base their moral well-being on food as it ruins any chance of a healthy relationship with food.
Consumers should also be aware of market terms such as superfoods. Superfoods are not real, there are no new food that act as a nutritional superhero. Claimed superfood like blueberries, kale, spinach, salmon, etc. have always been around, but only recently have they been marketed as superfoods. Consumers should not take the label of superfoods at face value, instead they should be looking at the actual nutritional value of the food item and consider if it is actually what they need.
- Misclassification of Employees (contractor jobs)
- Student Aid Bill of Rights
Finances are an integral part of everyday life, and everyone is a consumer when it comes to finances. Finances are not always easy to understand and consumers should be aware of certain terms and policies to better be able to protect themselves from debt and fraud. Terms such as the Misclassification of Employees (contract work), Poverty, and the Student Aid Bill of Rights are all important matters that consumers should be aware of in finances. Consumers should also know that financial health is not limited to just how much money an individual has, it also expands into subjects like employment, student debt, and poverty.
Did you know that over $14 million Americans are unemployed? Job hunting is often a daunting and expensive task for both individuals pursuing a job and employers offering employment. Consumers are vulnerable during job hunting, as time passes they slowly dig away at their savings. This could threaten to throw a consumer into a drastic financial situation if they go without a job for too long. No one wants to be out of a job for long, but consumers should be wary of offers that are too good to be true. Consumers seeking employment should be closely before accepting contract work. Some companies are illegally dubbing employees as contact workers rather than full-time employees to save on costs. By listing employees as contract workers the companies are saving revenue while depriving employees of important benefits. This practice is known as misclassification, an illegal and slow to fix exploitation of employees. Consumers should always thoroughly investigate a potential employer and any offered job before taking on employment.
What happens when you cannot find a job, and the savings are gone? This situation is a common one for many consumers. Poverty, actual poverty, is unfortunately a real problem in today’s society. Poverty is generally thought of as an inability to provide for oneself basic necessities such as food, water, or shelter. Say a consumer cannot find a job, the savings are gone, the kids are hungry, and the electricity has been cut off because they cannot pay the bill. This is a harsh struggle that many people have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Poverty is not something that can or should be ignored, and it is definitely not something that will go away on its own. Consumers need to be aware that they are not immune to poverty, and that they should be putting forth efforts to combat poverty.
Financial difficulties are not only affecting those in the workforce, these days it is common for college students to accumulate tens of thousands of dollars in debt in the pursuit of higher education. Student debt can become overwhelming, consumers need to keep track how much they owe, make payments early (if possible), and to know the grace period once out of school. Consumers with student debt should also be aware of the Student Aid Bill of Rights. The Student Aid Bill of Rights is a bill that provides consumers with protection as borrowers, and establishes the consumers right to a fair, affordable, quality loan to utilize for education. This bill is important to consumers because it affords consumers the flexibility to base payments upon income and to have the loan forgiven after a set number of years (generally around 25 years). The is a huge benefit to consumers as it means that the payment amounts can be adjusted to the consumers income, and it also allows for a responsive student feedback system to help shape the system more effectively and to hold lenders accountable for the services they are supposed to provide.
The article, “Why “Everything in Moderation” Doesn’t Work” by Jonathan Ross, is a very thought-provoking article. It details the flaws behind the oversimplification of moderation, how that issue affects our relationship with food, and the false nature of the term superfood. This article hit rather close to home for me, my fiancé was recently diagnosed with diabetes during a recent hospital stay and we have been attending diabetes courses to understand what exactly this means for him. The two instructors are a dietician and a nutritionist, and the one thing that they repeat to everyone, multiple times, is that they can eat anything they want as long as it is in moderation. I had never thought too much on this term, just went with the general idea of not eating an excess of anything. I am guilty of thinking of food in terms of good or bad choices, many consumers are these days, but that thinking is flawed. Categorizing food as good or bad can cultivate an unhealthy relationship with food that does us more harm than good as consumers. Since my fiancé was diagnosed we have been watching our nutritional intake very carefully and trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle. The proposed diet is something that I could not see myself doing. I like to eat healthy foods, I have gotten used to it and whenever I eat unhealthy or heavy greasy food I end up feeling sick. I would say that my definition of moderation does need some work though, I do not think I am at risk of chronic disease, but it is very easy to head in that direction. Consumers are constantly bombarded with ads centered around junk food and it is very easy to rationalize moderation to oneself as the article demonstrates. I plan to pursue this aspect of consumer health further as it could be beneficial for not only myself, but also for my fiancé. I believe the best place to start would be to keep a food journal for myself and see exactly what I am eating everyday as this will allow me to monitor if I am actually practicing moderation in a healthy form or not.
When I was a child I was very outgoing and loved to socialize. Everywhere I went I just meshed in really well with other people. My mom even joked that I could just made friends with anyone. Of course as I grew older that behavior changed, as an adult I do not go out of my way to socialize with people I do not know and even find myself feeling a little shy in social situations. It is really interesting how much a person can change over the course of their lives. I chose to undertake this challenge because I wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone and try something new. So for three consecutive days I interacted with strangers, I gave them small compliments and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to try to brighten their day.
On the first day of this challenge I was pretty nervous. I felt uncomfortable and awkward so I decided to start small. I received a notice that I had a package in my apartment complex’s office and figured I would try starting this challenge there. I walked in, requested the package, and started up a conversation. I told the woman helping me that I loved her sweater and it ended up becoming a twenty-minute conversation. I was surprised that I actually had a lot of fun chatting with her. Her initial reaction was to smile and thank me. I think that our small chat made her day a little brighter, and I am unsure if she would tell her friends or not. I enjoyed this experience and was definitely less apprehensive of the next days attempt. I would not mind popping back into the office and chatting again with her if I get the chance.
On the second day I was still nervous to be trying this again, but not to the degree of the previous day. I was in Starbucks sitting at a table after meeting with a wedding photographer, and this older gentleman was sitting at the table next to me asked me what my nationality was. I told him that I was Irish and Norwegian and he said that he thought I was Italian with how I talk with my hands so much. I laughed and told him thank you and we chatted for a while about travel. I complimented him on his travel savvy knowledge and we talked about sightseeing and such. It was overall a very interesting and enjoyable experience. The gentleman looked to enjoy our conversation as much as I did, and I think I made his day a little better. I am unsure if he would share about his experience with a friend or not. I think this challenge is something I will continue in my everyday life as a normal trend.
On day three I almost did not complete the challenge as I was home for most of the day. Thankfully we went to the grocery store that afternoon and I was able to fulfill the final day of the challenge while there. I was in the check out line and the cashier looked like it had been a rough day so I decided to try complimenting her to see if it made any difference. I made general small talk and asked her if it was a busy day in the store, etcetera. I complimented her hard work and told her thank you and to have a great day. She smiled and looked a bit less stressed. It made me feel really good that just a small interaction like that could make someone who looked so stressed smile for a bit. I will definitely be repeating that and I think that I made a small difference in her day. I found this attempt a lot easier as I did not feel nervous about engaging in conversation with her, and afterwards I felt good to have made her smile.