Sllluuurrrrpp. Pooh licked the last of the honey off his hands. Winnie-the-Pooh had completely consumed all the honey in his house! Pooh bear loved all sweet foods: cakes, lolly pops, chocolate, Rabbit’s carrot pies, but most of all, Pooh loved Honey. Once Pooh started on a jar of honey, he could eat the entire jar, and 10 more! Pooh had quite an appetite and he tummy was becoming rather large. He had also been noticing a few funny things within himself lately. He was much thirstier than normal and had to use the bathroom to wee much more than he usually did. Today he was feeling especially sick and decided he would take a nap.
“Knock, knock, knock!”
Pooh’s friends Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger had come over to Pooh’s place to see what he was up to. No one answered the door.
“Knock, knock, knock!”
Again, there was no response. “Maybe Pooh isn’t home?” queried Piglet. “He must be home, we had agreed to come over and go for a walk in the forest, lets go inside”, Tigger exclaimed as he let himself into Pooh’s house.
There Pooh was, lying on the floor asleep, covered in Honey! “Pooh, wake up! Come play with us!” Pooh was very sleepy and didn’t respond. Piglet began to worry, “Is Pooh okay? He has eaten so much honey, maybe he is sick!?”. “I sometimes eat Honey”, Eeyore mumbled with his head down and his tail between his legs, “it makes me feel happy when I am having a sad day…”. By this stage Tigger had woken Pooh up, “Pooh, come play with us!”.
“I don’t feel like playing in the forest today, I’ve had too much to eat”.
“But Pooh you never come running with us in the forest anymore, you should really do some exercise, I think all this honey might be taking a toll on your health”, Tigger continued.
“Uh, uh, uh, I am w-w-worried about you Pooh”, Piglet stuttered, “I think we should go see wise Mr Owl to check that everything is okay”.
“Oh, fine, you’re all a big bunch of worry warts, but I will talk to Owl if that would make you all happy”. The four of them went to visit Mr Owl.
“Mr Owl, we are worried about Pooh bear, we found him asleep in his house covered in honey!”.
“Oh dear, Winnie always has loved to get into the honey jars. I think years and years of too much honey may have affected his blood glucose levels, I will take a quick blood sample now to check”.
Mr Owl pricked Pooh’s finger to see how much sugar was in his blood. The sugar was very high. Mr Owl did a blood test a few hours later when Pooh hadn’t had anything to eat.
“Winnie-the-Pooh, I believe you have developed a condition called impaired glucose tolerance. If you’re not careful this may progress to become type 2 diabetes mellitus. Normally, this condition isn’t very common in people as young as you, but with your big tummy and your love of honey you are very much at risk.”
“What is type 2 diabetes mellitus?” Piglet asked anxiously.
“Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body uses glucose or sugar. Sugar is an important chemical in food to give our bodies energy so we can think and bounce around. When we eat a meal, the sugar in our food is absorbed into our blood. The blood transports sugar through a very big network of blood vessels, like highways, roads and cul-de-sacs, to cells all throughout our body that require it. After you eat a meal, an organ in your body called the pancreas releases a chemical called insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let sugar into cells. Insulin also tells your liver, another organ in your body, to stop making more sugar because there is already enough sugar in your blood.”
“That is very interesting indeed owl”, claimed Pooh bear, “but what is wrong with me eating Honey when my body needs the sugar anyway?”
“When you eat too much sugar, and you do not exercise enough, the insulin doesn’t work as well as a key so your cell’s can’t take up all the sugar very efficiently. Instead of being in your cells where the sugar is required, it stays in your blood causing hyperglycaemia. When the sugar gets to a certain level, you may notice you are thirstier than usual, you need to wee a lot of you feel quite sleepy”.
“I feel sleepy all the time”, sulked Eeyore.
“If the sugar in your blood remains high for a long period of time, you may develop complications. These can affect your eye sight, your kidneys, your blood vessels, your nerves and lots of other important parts of your body!”
Piglet was feeling very worried, “I don’t want that to happen to you Pooh!”
“So did I get impaired glucose tolerance just from eating Honey? I love Honey!” Pooh bear asked rubbing his tummy.
“Well Pooh, Type 2 diabetes is linked to your lifestyle and also to your genetics. You have a diet high in sugar, you don’t exercise often and your parents used to have this condition – all of these factors put you at risk. Luckily for you, you don’t yet have type 2 diabetes mellitus. With some changes to your diet and with more exercise you can be completely healthy again!”
Tiger was excited, “Pooh you can come bounce around with me all the time!!”
“And Christopher Robin said we could eat the delicious vegetables from his garden bed”, continued Eeyore.
“Thank you very much wise owl, you have really helped me today, I didn’t think eating all that honey would ever run me into trouble and I am so glad you’ve told me this before I developed type 2 diabetes or any complications!”
“I still love Honey; I will just eat Honey in moderation from now on”. Everyone chuckled.
“See you all later, I am going to have a nap now, Hoot!” Owl flew back to her nest.
Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore went running through the forest all afternoon.
For more information about type 2 diabetes:
Interactive, child friendly website educating children about living with diabetes. A branch of Diabetes UK – care, connect, campaign.