The next time you feel like sticking your hand in the cookie jar, imagine your skin melting off the very hand holding the cookie and decomposing flesh peering out from underneath.
Doesn’t sound too appetising, does it? This is the point advertisers are trying to make in a graphic new campaign aimed at raising awareness on the risks of too much sugar.
The images were commissioned by The Diabetes Association of Thailand, who wanted to highlight Type 2 diabetes-related complications like damage to the nerves and poor blood circulation, which can in turn lead to ulcers, infections and even amputations if left untreated.
This is because the body heals slower than when healthy and is unable to detect infections as easily.
The Thailand-born designer behind the unsettling visuals, Nattakong Jaengsem, aptly titled the series “Sweet Kills” and depicts wounds oozing with caramel, sprouting chocolate sores and dripping with sugary sauces.
And the association isn’t exaggerating, says Dr Zane Stevens, an endocrinologist from Cape Town. Diabetes really can lead to such severe complications.
“It is true the diabetes can affect both nerves and blood supply,” he says.
He explains that doctors divide the complications resulting from diabetes into two groups. The first, microvascular complications, include issues like neuropathy, which relates to damage to the nerves.
This can cause numbness and sensations like pins and needles and tingling. Microvascular complications also include problems with the liver and harm to the eyes’ retina.
“The neuropathy most commonly starts as sensations in the feet,” he adds.
The second group is known as macro vascular complications and includes heart disease, strokes and peripheral vascular disease, which is a blood circulation disorder that affects blood vessels outside the heart and brain.
“These complications, in combination with poor blood circulation, means that patients are very prone to injuries which they do not feel well and which heal poorly.”