Juicy “Daily Apple” Shakes the Tree

Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple blog carries the tagline: “Doing my part to piss off the self-righteous health establishment.” Obviously, he prides himself on stirring the pot — or shaking the tree, as his metaphor would have it.

Among other outspoken claims, Mark recently wrote that diabetes is “a made-up, stupid disease” — called to my attention by one of his assistants (a staff of five helps Mark compile the blog, which exists at least in part to help sell the group’s nutrition supplements; note that I had to school Mark’s assistants on the difference between news services like the AP and personal blogs, in order to stop them from lifting post content without attribution.)

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Anyway, I just couldn’t resist querying Mark on this juicy stance about the non-existence of diabetes. Here’s what he had to say:

About Mark’s Daily Apple: “My mission is to radically shake people up — to get them thinking about health issues from a fresh perspective. Clearly, the way things are being done right now isn’t working for people’s health. I want to create change, discussion, and frankly, call people on their b.s. (which usually means the government and pharmaceutical companies, not individuals). I have a big problem with media spin and medical corruption and I think, as it applies to diabetes, the current state of affairs is inexcusable.”

About his irreverent style: “If it can get people talking, thinking, and taking action, I’ve done my job. In this particular case, riffing about diabetes was yet another opportunity for me to highlight what I see as extreme absurdity in the health industry by being totally absurd myself. Yes, I get carried away. My response is always: and there’s a problem with that? It got your attention!”

“To clarify, my objective, as the founder of Primal Nutrition, and with over 25 years’ experience in high-level anti-doping work, in supplement development and scientific research, and as a biologist, is to focus on prevention.”

About understanding diabetes: “Yes, I do know the difference between diabetes type 1 and type 2. It would have helped to make that clear in my post, but being that my blog is about prevention and lifestyle, my emphasis is on type 2, and preventing it. My readers are familiar with my focus on type 2, but new readers aren’t, so I could have been more clear.”

“I do see the vast numbers of people with type 2 as a real waste — of resources, medical expertise, and individual lives. Why? Because the evidence is compelling that type 2 can be prevented in most cases. In fact, I would argue that all but a tiny fraction of type 2 cases are entirely preventable. And almost all type 2 cases that haven’t progressed to beta cell failure and insulin dependence are completely reversible — curable by lifestyle and diet. A so-called ‘genetic predisposition’ isn’t a guarantee that you’ll develop diabetes, it’s a huge red flag that you more than most need to watch what you eat and how you exercise (and how you control stress). In fact, I’d argue that we are all ‘diabetic’ to some degree. Eat the wrong things, live the wrong lifestyle, and chances are good you’ll develop diabetes. The numbers certainly reflect that. Type 1 is a disease, but I would argue that type 2 is a condition that can largely be prevented.”

On the D-Epidemic: “We don’t need 1 in 3 kids developing diabetes (we need food marketers to stop manipulating socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and highly-impressionable children).  We don’t need an epidemic (we need healthier lifestyles, especially with this week’s news that so many specific groups of Americans are genetically susceptible to insulin problems). I hold food marketers, the federal government’s wimping out to lobbyists, and the largely uninformed media responsible.

“… Most of the health ‘news’ out there is nothing more than a press release from a drug company. The FDA is a mess. But people don’t always know that — clearly they don’t, or we wouldn’t have an epidemic on our hands.”

“Ultimately, however, individuals are also responsible, so it sometimes takes an uncomfortable splash of water to wake someone up. I hate the line of lies people are fed — that disease just ‘happens,’ and you’d better just take a drug and hope to hobble along without losing a limb, your vision, or worse. Diabetes (again, type 2) can always be managed better through the appropriate lifestyle choices, and in most cases, even eliminated. Any biologist or individual inclined to do the digging (such as yourself) knows how the body works and can implement effective steps and tools to undo a lot of damage.”

Offering health advice: “As far as my personal recommendations: I advocate, of course, absolutely cutting out all refined carbohydrates and sugars, eliminating trans fats (including partially hydrogenated oils), increasing intake of Omega 3s, paying attention to portion control (calories), getting daily aerobic and/or resistance exercise, and the big one: controlling stress.  Do all those and you prevent 99% of type 2 or CURE most of those who have it. By the way, when I say ‘cure’ I mean that you no longer have the condition as long as you follow the rules. I know that flies in the face of the ‘once a diabetic, always a diabetic’ mindset, but by the same token, I believe a person who used to drink, but hasn’t touched alcohol for 10 years needn’t still refer to him/herself as an alcoholic.”

Bottom line: “As you can see, I don’t have a problem with rocking the boat. Someone has to. Certainly we can agree — lives are at stake.”

Thanks for sounding off, Mark.  We think…

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9 Responses

  1. Hamish
    Hamish February 21, 2007 at 12:30 pm | | Reply

    Oh great, another ignorant, high profile “it’s all your own fault, you fat, lazy person” mouthpiece. Just what the world needs. My first diabetologist focussed on sports people with diabetes – amongst them an olympic gold medallist in rowing – an endurance sport calling for extreme levels of activity. He is not a type 1, but he didn’t present with the typical type 2 attributes that Mark ascribes to all of us who aren’t type 1 i.e. he wasn’t overweight, sedentary and living on junk food. When I was first diagnosed, neither was I – 38 years old, 6′ 1″, 180 pounds, regular vigorous exercise and healthy diet but with fasting blood sugar of well over 300. What exactly was I supposed to change to “cure” myself? Diabetes cases range on a sliding scale from the extremes of type 1 to type 2 – more than one doctor has scratched their heads looking at my case and proclaimed “type 1.5″ Where does that fit in Mark’s narrow view of diabetes?

  2. Jennifer
    Jennifer February 21, 2007 at 12:36 pm | | Reply

    Oh well. I guess it’s all my fault I have diabetes. I’m a terrible person made to feel worse because insensitive losers like this “peach” think I should just stop supersizing my combo meals.

    How about instead of making broad, insane comments we take a step back and help people. All people with type 2 can be helped, they can be taught to monitor their sugars and take insulin (T1′s already know these things) and make positive lifestyle changes. Slowly.

    Let’s not push newly diagnosed T2′s and the “socioeconomically disadvantaged” down and beat them with words like “it’s all your fault for being fat” and “you’re stupid because you’re poor” That’s just plain insulting.

    I’m sorry for the rant but people like that make me want to scream. He doesn’t want to help T2′s, he wants to be rich and famous. Were it up to me, he’d have diabetes so he would know what it feels like.

  3. Melitta
    Melitta February 21, 2007 at 1:57 pm | | Reply

    I get really tired of people like Mark who fail two distinguish between two vastly different diseases (Type 1 and Type 2) and who use “diabetes” as an umbrella term while actually only referring to Type 2. Yes, Type 2 is almost always a preventable disease. And if you have been diagnosed with Type 2 but don’t have any of the classic attributes of Type 2 (post from Hamish, above), you should find a qualified endo who knows about Type 1 in adults and get a correct diagnosis (c-peptide and antibody testing). Misdiagnosis is ugly.

  4. Rachel
    Rachel February 21, 2007 at 2:12 pm | | Reply

    I think it is dangerous to put the word “cure” next to “type 2″ until there really is one. There are many ways to be IN CONTROL, but not cured. As soon as someone stops taking care of their diabetes, it will go out of control (no matter what type). Even if diet & exercise are the prescription, one needs to keep up with the prescription in order to stay IN CONTROL. No, there’s no cure.

    And I agree with your above commenters, there’s no need for more people blaming type 2 patients for past bad habits. The emphasis has to be on the idea that those habits can be changed for the better, not making them feel worse than they already do.

  5. AmyT
    AmyT February 21, 2007 at 2:18 pm | | Reply

    I agree with Jennifer. People like Mark need to walk a mile in our shoes…

  6. Maureen
    Maureen February 21, 2007 at 4:49 pm | | Reply

    I second Jennifer & Amy. BUT…I’d like him to have to walk a mile in my 11 year old(type1) son’s shoes..He doesn’t remember what things were like before he “had” diabetes. On second thought, he couldn’t, Casey’s shoes would be too big for him to fill.

  7. Lili
    Lili February 21, 2007 at 5:52 pm | | Reply

    The thing that always got me about people saying Type 2 is preventable is that in a sense it really is losing the genetic lottery. Many times the people I observe saying this or negative things about fat people are eating THE SAME DIET they’re lambasting, but because they did better in the genetic lottery, they’re not overweight or diabetic. How is that fair? I think everyone who says Type 2 is preventable should have to follow the same healthy diet all the time. Put their food where their mouth is! Heh.

    I am a Type 1, btw.

  8. Steve
    Steve February 21, 2007 at 7:59 pm | | Reply

    Someone who doesn’t have it simply cannot understand.

  9. wschaf
    wschaf February 23, 2007 at 4:54 pm | | Reply

    Mark Sisson is probably more right than wrong – but only if you can follow the correct diet and exercise a lot. I would like to point you to a study in Diabetes Care 29:1777-1783, 2006 by Neal Barnard et al [website:

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