Earlier today, the BBC, through their Breakfast show on TV and the Newsbeat Radio 1 and Jeremy Vine Radio 2 programs, gave coverage to Crohn’s Disease, and they managed to provoke the fury of anyone who has the illness in doing so. Why you may ask, when all of us with an IBD, be that Crohn’s or UC want awareness of the conditions raised? It’s because the BBC have been promoting comments attributed to Dr Sally Mitton, that Crohn’s is heavily on the rise, it’s all because of a diet of junk food and the overuse of antibiotics, and this is being reported as a fact. And now The Telegraph’s Sarah Knapton has got in on the action and published a story under the headline of “Crohn’s disease in teens jumps 300 per cent in 10 years fuelled by junk food”, and those of us with IBDs are quite rightly disgusted with the way the illness is being covered in the media, untruths are being spread about it.
Essentially, the world is being told that we all caused our illnesses. It’s all our fault. We did it. We’re bang to rights and it’s because we all ate a load of horrible junk food. Wrong. Categorically and completely wrong. I didn’t eat a diet of junk food growing up, my Mother cooked meals from scratch when I was a child, and I have always eaten plenty of vegetables and fruit, my Grandfather used to bring home sacks and sacks of fruit and veg every week for all of us (his three daughters and all of their families) to have. We live in Norfolk and he bought the veg from farmers that he knew in the local area. I like fruit and vegetables. A lot. I always have. I still eat plenty of veg, and if you’re familiar with (Man with) IBD Versus Food, you’ll know I don’t eat junk food. I am now 40 and pride myself on being a damn good cook, no, I’m a damn good chef!
The causes of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are so complex that no one actually knows exactly what they are. Sure there are plenty of theories, there are genetic factors, possibly environmental triggers, it’s highly likely a combination of many things that can cause an individual to develop one of these illnesses. In fact, recent research suggests that there may be over 200 separate genetic indicators or responses for IBDs, which is probably why no one has been able to pin down a cause. There isn’t one, there are likely hundreds. Even the idea that it’s inherited is a dead end of sorts, I am one of many that is the first in their family to contract Crohn’s. One thing I hear from listening to others experiences, is that so many people with Crohn’s were generally healthy eaters, they tell me they never or seldom used to eat junk food. Many of them found junk food expensive and many people didn’t even have the taste for it, takeaways are expensive! So how can it be that we all have Crohn’s because of it, if so few of us ate it? One thing is certain about the causes of IBD…..nothing is certain. We just don’t know what causes it.
Here are just a few comments from the members of an IBD forum that have been venting their spleens at Dr Sally Mitton’s assertion that junk food is the cause of Crohn’s. I really cannot publish all of the reaction to this, too many responses and some people have been moved (understandably) to swear profusely! But I would rather you all post your stories and replies in the comments section below and share this in the farthest reaches of the internet on Facebook and Twitter, maybe it will wend it’s way to the Beeb eventually.
Member A “For me it’s the fact that I’m 66 and pretty newly diagnosed. No junk food for me growing up and I followed my Mother’s lead as an adult and cooked healthy food”
Member B “I was a veggie for years before diagnosis (I was 13) but had to stop as the high fibre, fresh fruit and veg were too much for my inflamed gut”.
Member C “I was raised on allotment meat and veg, no sweets, just fruit, I was 16 in 1980 and diagnosed with Crohn’s. I’m 51 this year, I’ve tried all the diet, had 8 bowel resections, fistulas, sepsis, MRSA, obstructions, near death surgery for peritonitis, etc, etc. I’ve never eaten unhealthy”.
Member D “I never had takeaways as a kid, maybe chip shop as a treat on occasions, but my Dad worked in a fruit and veg market and he would bring home big sacks of that on a Friday, so always home cooked foods, and a chocolate bar and a bag of crisps on a Friday at my Nans, but overall healthy!!”.
Member E “I was bought up on a diet of homemade food, made by my stay-at-home Mum. We didn’t have ‘junk food’, unless you count fish and chips a couple of times a year. And just before I became ill, I had left university and started a new job at the other end of the country. I cooked the kind of balanced diet recommended by the NHS. I certainly didn’t eat takeaways, ready made meals or any other junk food”
This a statement on behalf of all of you who have Crohn’s. We would prefer that in future the BBC, The Telegraph, or any other news outlet for that matter, instead of pedalling pejorative opinions, they simply do their research before publishing or going to air. It simply isn’t good enough and we are all thoroughly disgusted. One young man has already said that he has had many people come up to him today and say they didn’t realise junk food caused it, people will believe it because the BBC says it’s so. What you have done, dear BBC (and Telegraph), is undermine the poor levels of awareness we have been trying to improve, hampered the education of the actual truth and facts of Crohn’s, UC and IBDs. There has always been a stigma attached to IBD, and now we are effectively being blamed for making ourselves ill by a section of the media and a lone medical doctor, all adds up to further misunderstanding really, doesn’t it? One thing I do know, is that many of us simply couldn’t tolerate eating masses of junk food, our guts cannot take it.
We will not just let it go, you’ve made an awful lot of people in the UK with Crohn’s very angry, just noting though that from yet another inaccuracy on the Newsbeat article, you don’t actually know how many people that actually is……