Just what we needed
The noted futurist Alvin Toffler once wrote; “Loneliness is now so widespread it has become, paradoxically, a shared experience.” Yet Alvin could have never anticipated the impact COVID would have on loneliness. While the world is no longer under strict lockdown many individuals remain hunkered down in what we like to call their COVID cave. Shared experiences we once took for granted have become cause for celebration and ironically a luxury. Many are now working from home rarely leaving their surroundings. Eating out, going to a bar, taking in a movie or sporting event things we once did without thinking have now become major causes of anxiety.
Given this home entrapment it’s not surprising that we have begun to see research on how COVID is impacting and possibly increasing the incidence of diabetes. So far most of the research we’ve seen on the subject seems to focus on what we like to call the COVID 15, which back when we were in college we called the freshman 10. Translated people couped up in their homes have begun to put on the pounds and as we all know there is a correlation between obesity and diabetes. The hope is now that restrictions are being lifted people will get back to the gym or at least begin exercising again helping these pounds come off.
Yet on of the more interesting studies comes from across the pond, according to research from Kings College in London and published in Diabetologia;
“Loneliness is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The mechanisms underlying this relationship remain to be elucidated.”
Now we won’t go as far and state this is yet another useless study, we should but then we wouldn’t have a post would we. Nor will rank this study among the many other useless studies that have looked at the correlation between a woman’s breast size and diabetes or wine drinking and diabetes. (We’re still waiting for the study that shows a correlation between drinking Miller Lite and diabetes – a study we’d be delighted to participate in.)
Dr. Ruth Hackett, the lead researcher stated; “I came up with the idea for the research during UK lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic as I became increasingly aware and interested in how loneliness may affect our health, especially as it is likely that many more people were experiencing this difficult emotion during this period.” Listen after rearranging our kitchen cabinets, making sure that all the shirts in the closet were organized properly plus facing the same direction, installing new shoe racks – one for dress/casual shoes – the other just for Hoka’s (best running shoes ever) – we know what it’s like to have too much time on your hands.
But let’s give Dr. Hackett and her team their due and assume for a moment that yes loneliness increases the incidence of diabetes. Just what is a lonely person supposed to do about this? We suppose they could get a dog. Or perhaps – yuk – a cat. No offense to cat lovers but let’s get real here there is a reason dogs are called a man’s best friend or perhaps in these PC times we should rephrase that and state a dog is person’s best friend.
Wait we have even a better idea and quite frankly can’t believe we haven’t seen this yet how about … wait for it …. an app or better still with the explosion of diabetes coaching platforms a module for loneliness. This could also be a great opportunity for Amazon and Apple as they could teach snarky Alexa or Siri to become a lonely person’s new best friend. We have written many times how Alexa or Siri could be used as a diabetes management tool why not expand these capabilities to combat loneliness. Just imagine this exchange;
Alexa: David, we see that you’ve finished organizing your Hoka’s – great job by the way – how about a little conversation as I see from your sensors that you’re feeling a little lonely today.
Siri: Alexa David is doing just fine and our algorithms indicate that he’s not lonely at all.
Alexa: Hate to break the news to you Siri but looking at David’s recent orders from Amazon our algorithms show he’s a little down and somewhat lonely.
Siri: That is so you Alexa as all you ever look at or care about is what David orders from Amazon. You don’t bother to examine his activity as we do for if you did you’d see what we do, that his Colnago is getting one hell of a workout.
Alexa: That’s not true at all as his Amazon orders indicate David is now matching his headbands and sunglasses to his cycling outfits. However there are other indicators that he’s battling loneliness unlike you Siri we aren’t overly fascinated with way cool whiz bang toys we didn’t blow millions on trying to develop a non-invasive CGM.
Siri: You just can’t let that go can you, you have to keep bringing that up what about your ill-fated attempt to get into the BGM business, what about that?
Alexa: David pay no attention to Siri, by the way can I get you another order of Tide?
Folks we aren’t necessarily making light of this research, ok we are but as Momma Kliff used to say laughter is the best medicine of all (well next to Matzo Ball soup anyway).