Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease that develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly. This results in the body’s cells failing to absorb glucose. The glucose levels build up in the blood stream to the point that it causes severe damage to the nervous system, kidneys, retinas and brain. With a healthy diet that monitors the amount of sugar and sugar based products (such as fructose) the disease is almost completely avoidable.
In July 2015 it was estimated that there are almost 3.9 million sufferers of the disease in the United Kingdom and that, on average, a new diagnosis of diabetes is made every two minutes. The number of people suffering from diabetes has risen from 1.4 million in 1995. It is estimated that by 2025 over 5 million inhabitants of the country will be diabetic. Worldwide there are believed to be 387 million diabetics with the figured estimated to rise to 592 million by 2035 (Diabetes UK annual report 2015).
This photographic series, Dying to Eat, looks at the root cause of this epidemic – sugar – and highlights the many complications that sufferers of the disease may suffer.
One of your five-a-day – Many food manufacturers play on our desire to try to eat healthily. By promoting fruit juices as ‘containing no preservatives’ or being one of ‘your five a day’ they encourage shoppers to buy for their children. What they neglect to mention is the very high sugar content. This image represents one 300ml ‘apple’ drink that contains 13 teaspoons of sugar.
Addiction – Sugar is incredibly addictive. When consumed brain scans have shown that it triggers the same pleasure centres as cocaine. Scientists have conducted test where they have give rats a cocaine addicted and offered them cocaine and sugar. The drug depend rats will still prefer to eat sugar such is its addictive nature.
Sweet Pizza – Food manufacturers want to sell their product. Designers are clever to play on traditional notions of healthy food to make their products seem more appetising. This ‘pizza’ is made by a confectionery factory and it contains more calories than a child needs in a day (and almost a full mug of sugar).
The Forgotten Bride – Several scientific papers have called for Alzheimer’s Disease to be classified as type 3 diabetes. High glucose levels in the blood causes damage to brain cells, especially those related to memory.
Hundreds and Thousands. Each week the NHS carries out almost 100 lower limb or foot amputations. These are the result of ulcers caused by diabetes – the disease causes nerve damage to the extremities that means the suffers are unaware of the ulcers until it is too late. 80% of these operations are avoidable if treatment had started earlier.
The Heart – Some 80-85% of diabetics fall into the categories of being overweight or obese. As a result they have to battle the effects of the disease but also the additional strains their weight places on their cardiovascular system. Diabetics have a life expectancy that is 15 years less than their peer group. The majority of diabetes will die of a heart attack.