5 Vintage Videos About Diabetes

From urine blood sugar testing to Wilford Brimley, journey down the YouTube rabbit hole with us.



We’ve come a long way in diabetes care, but we’ve also come a long way in videos about diabetes. Check out these vintage spots on diabetes and diabetes charities to see how people used to talk about diabetes:

1. This video from the 1950’s teaches how to control blood sugar by testing the sugar in urine. As you watch this, picture having to store urine in glass tubes and test it in glass beakers, all to get outdated blood sugar readings. Be warned – bad sound quality:

2. In this sixties-era spot for what was then called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, actress Dina Merrill employs a confidential tone to talk about Type 1 diabetes, almost speaking in a hush when describing her son’s diagnosis. Her hair is perfect, and her tone earnest.

3. Watch Beverly Hillbillies actor Buddy Ebsen obviously read from cue cards to pitch what was then called the Joslin Diabetes Foundation. He seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere.

4. In this eighties spot, The Canadian Diabetes Association uses a sweaty body on a treadmill to discuss why the body needs insulin. “When there’s not enough, a condition exists,” the narrator helpfully tells us.

5. A whole generation of people with diabetes have grown up with Wilford Brimley as the delightfully off-kilter uncle with diabetes we all wish we had. In this spot for Liberty Medical, Brimley riffs for six minutes on “diabeetus” and other topics, including the song, “Come On Get Happy”. The camera keeps rolling.

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Craig Idlebrook is chief editor for Insulin Nation and Información Sobre Diabetes, and was founding editor for Type 2 Nation. You can reach him at cidlebrook@selfrx.com.