Oprah Take On Diabetes Again. This Time It’s For Real.


Dear Oprah,

I’ve been thinking about what I said to you and Gayle in my last letter. You know, about doing another show on diabetes. One where you don’t scare anyone and you actually have a few diabetes experts on.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that they would really love that. They’d also love to see some people with diabetes who did use it as a wake-up call to get healthier and how they did that.

Since my mind was just racing about this last night, I wrote down a few notes about how it could go. I hope you don’t mind. Here’s my idea.

The Oprah Winfrey Show – Diabetes: Take 2

STAGE DIRECTION: Oprah walks out and greets audience. (Everyone in the audience has diabetes. They manage it well and are happy and fit.)

OPRAH TO CAMERA: “Today we’re doing a follow up show to our program, “Diabetes: America’s Silent Killer”. We’ve called it, “Diabetes: America’s Opportunity for Better Health.” We got a lot of response (You did, Oprah) to our first show. We heard you’d like us to correct a few things we said, and you’d like to hear from people who are living happy, productive lives with diabetes.”

STAGE DIRECTION: Camera pans audience. Audience members are ecstatic.

OPRAH TO CAMERA: “Saul, are you out there?” (Oprah looks into the audience with her hand blocking the glare from the lights)

SAUL: Saul stands and waves. “Hi Oprah! Here I am.”

OPRAH: “Saul, I understand you were 100 pounds heavier when you got diabetes. Really? How’d you lose the weight?”

SAUL: “I was shopping one day in the mall and they had a table where they test your blood sugar. A guy dressed as a clown tested mine and told me it was 400! Well, I wasn’t going to believe some clown, so I went to my doctor. Sure enough I had diabetes.
They put me in a diabetes education class where some people were also getting a weight loss intervention. I wanted to be in that group but they wouldn’t switch me. So the dietitian told me the secret they tell people in the weight loss group. It takes 20% education and 80% motivation.

So I got really motivated to show those %#&! I could lose weight even in the control group! My wife said, “Don’t diet,” it sets you up to fail. Instead, she had me pick the weight I wanted to be and get on a maintenance plan for that weight. In two years I lost a hundred pounds.”

Then my father in law passed away and I found his 10-speed bike. I hadn’t ridden since I was a kid, but I started riding and got involved in a bicycle mentoring program for teenagers. Now I do an hour of physical fitness every day, mentor the kids and bike 90 miles a week. I’m 67. I’m in better health than I’ve ever been and I love what I’m doing!”

OPRAH: “Thank you Saul. You can sit down now. Please…Saul, SIT DOWN.” (Saul’s a little excitable, Oprah, about all that he’s doing, you understand.)

Then Oprah, you introduce your guests – bona fide diabetes experts. Don’t worry, I know lots. There’s Dr. Anne Peters, nationally respected diabetologist and director of the USC Clinical Diabetes Programs. Francine Kaufman, pediatric endocrinologist and Distinguished Professor at USC The Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism. Fran’s leading a mission to halt obesity and type 2 diabetes in children. Hope Warshaw, diabetes eduator and dietitian. Sheri Colberg-Ochs, diabetes educator and exercise physiologist. Actually Sheri has diabetes and we had quite a conversation after your first show. She also wrote something about your show, and she knows a lot!

Each of these experts has like twenty years experience in diabetes!

And don’t worry, if someone can’t be there, you’ll Skype with them!

These experts will give your viewers accurate information about type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They’ll point out the risk factors, symptoms, preventive behaviors and some simple things you can do to improve your health if you have diabetes. They’ll be encouraging, and get people out of that fear they picked up from the last show.

Then, at the half way mark, you bring on Dr. Bill Polonsky, founder of the Diabetes Behavioral Institute, and Joe Solowiejczyk, diabetes nurse and family therapist. Joe’s had diabetes since he was eight. They can talk about the emotional reality of living with diabetes, what to do if you have depression, and how a family can work well together if their child has diabetes.

Then we run (sorry, I got carried away. You run) a short video with Olympic swimmer Gary Hall. He’s won ten Olympic medals, some of them after he got diabetes, pretty impressive.

You can have former Governor Mike Huckabee – who lost a ton of weight and started an initiative in Arkansas for the whole state to combat obesity – say something. In fact, he just interviewed First Lady, Michelle Obama, about her “Let’s Move” campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic.

Then, maybe, you could introduce me, maybe ;-)

OPRAH: We have one more very special guest in our audience today. Riva come on up here. I want to introduce you to Riva Greenberg who wrote a series of articles in the Huffington Post that made us all realize we had to do this show. Thank you for opening our eyes. (you know, something like that).

RIVA: Thank you Oprah. I’m so grateful we’ve been able to get really good information to people and hopefully inspire millions that they can live a full, vibrant life with diabetes, and, use it as their wake up call to get healthier. Because if we look at diabetes as an opportunity to get healthier and truly appreciate life, we will.

OPRAH TO AUDIENCE: To help you do just that, we have a very special gift for all of you. If you look under your seat you’ll see you’re going home with riva’s two books today, “50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life: And The 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It” and “The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes”!

PAN AUDIENCE: Audience stands up and cheers!

PAN TO THE SKYPE MONITOR: As the show ends a number of celebrities with diabetes, on Skype, say one last thing. For example:

Kris Freeman, Cross-country skier at the Vancouver Olympics. “Go for your dream, diabetes doesn’t have to stop you!”
Nick Jonas, Singer. “Sometimes it’s not easy, but you’ll see how strong you are.”

Halle Berry, actress. “Hi Oprah, I just want to wish everyone my love.”

Zippora Karz, Former NYC Ballet dancer. “Wishing you all well and keep dancing!”

Larry King, Talk show host. “Hi Oprah, baby. We’ll be doing a show on diabetes too next week so tune in to Larry King Live. See you then, Riva. Just call me when you gt to the studio.”

So, Oprah, what do you think? I think this will finally put all that bad press to rest. And help millions of people prevent diabetes, and those who have it, live really well with it.

{By the way, I have an idea for a third show, actually maybe a series. It’s a diabetes reality show intervention with Gillian McKeith, nutritionist and host of BBC’s popular reality show, ‘You Are What You Eat.’ It’ll be brilliant! But I want to talk to you in person about this one.}

So, give me a call, Oprah. I haven’t moved. I’m still waiting here by the phone. Once we meet we’re going to be great friends, I just know it.

Best regards,

Originally published in The Huffington Post

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9 years ago

Am I the only one annoyed at your posts? I’ve had gestational diabetes 3 times….   … and now you’re making the usual assumptions… I must be lazy, unhealthy, overweight for this to happen…   No. Before my first kid my BMI was 21 which is quite appropriate for my build (after breastfeeding it fell to 20,5 which is fine too). I’ve always had a healthy diet, and exercised around 1 hour at day (biking) when diagnosed. Later I’ve subsequently increased my activity level and now exercise somewhere between 1-3 hours/day. With 3 kids – no time for more! Yet… Read more »

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