I received an interesting email from the American Diabetes Association more than a week ago, but I saved it until today because I’m reasonably sure it’s intended to be an April Fools’ joke. Here it is, with my comments:
Yup, that’s an exact quote. No name after Dear , just a space for my name should I care to insert it.
Our country is headed down a costly, and dangerous, path – leading to 1 in 3 adults having diabetes by 2050. However, you can act to change that, and it only takes a minute!
Well, I’m a pretty busy guy, so I don’t know if I have can spare a full minute to save the country from diabetes. But okay, I’ll keep reading.
Congress needs to know that the cost of diabetes to our nation – over $245 billion a year – is unacceptable.
Congress needs to know having nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes and 79 million more with prediabetes is unacceptable.
Congress needs to know that inaction is unacceptable.
So that’s why we have so many diabetics these days – not enough action by Congress. Back when diabetes rates were a fraction of what they are today, Congress must’ve been all over the issue. I suppose my daughters will eventually endure a history lesson in school explaining how diabetes was low during the Great Depression because of a New Deal program that was later canceled by Ronald Reagan, leading to the current epidemic of diabetes.
(Sara was recently taught that the New Deal lifted the United States out of the Great Depression. She asked my opinion on that lesson, which led to one of those heart-to-heart conversations she’ll remember fondly when I’m gone.)
Can I count on you to take just one minute and act now?
The letter was signed by someone whose official position at the ADA is National Advocacy Committee Chair.
Now, I have nothing against advocacy per se. I consider myself a health advocate. But when I come across the words advocate or advocacy in an organization’s name or a person’s title, little alarm bells go off in my head … because it usually turns out that advocacy translates to trying to get Congress to spend a shootload of the taxpayers’ money on our cause.
So I clicked the COUNT ME IN! link in the email and ended up at a page with the headline Tell Congress to take action to Stop Diabetes! Here’s some of the text:
Some Members of Congress want to derail ongoing diabetes research and undermine proven prevention efforts despite the fact a staggering 100+ million Americans either have or are at risk of developing diabetes.
So let me wrap my head around this: 1) we have proven prevention efforts, but 2) diabetes rates are through the roof. Those proven prevention efforts must not be working out so well. And if we already know what the proven prevention methods are, what’s the big concern with derailing diabetes research? Sounds as if the ADA has it all figured out already.
We must act now – Congress is in the process of making crucial budget decisions about vitally important diabetes research and prevention programs.
Send an email and urge your Members of Congress to support funding for diabetes research and prevention and add your voice to those of Diabetes Advocates who will be in Washington, D.C. next week for our Capitol Hill Advocacy Day.
Translation: Yes, we receive a ton of funding from the makers of food-like products consisting largely of sugars and grains – but it’s not enough. TELL CONGRESS TO GIVE US MORE OF YOUR MONEY!
Your email will have more impact if you personalize it, so please take a moment to explain the impact diabetes has had on your life.
Diabetes hasn’t had an impact on my life because I ignore the ADA’s advice. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. One of my relatives who’s a type 2 diabetic recently went into the hospital and was served pancakes and syrup for breakfast. Then an obese dietician stopped by to tell him to follow the ADA guidelines and eat plenty of carbohydrates while avoiding fat. That made me really, really mad. So I guess that had an impact on me. My cortisol levels went up for awhile.
Just so we don’t personalize that email to Congress too much, the ADA was kind enough to write most of it for us:
Dear [Decision Maker],
As your constituent, I stand with the American Diabetes Association in urging you to support funding for diabetes research and prevention programs.
A 2013 study showed that diagnosed diabetes cost our country $245 billion in 2012 alone, up 41% from 2007. Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and another 79 million have prediabetes. Our country is facing a diabetes epidemic and we need a stronger federal investment in diabetes research and public health initiatives.
And remember, Congressperson, if we spend the money now, it will save money in the long run! (Everyone who wants to spend taxpayer money uses that line. That’s why we’re awash in government budget surpluses these days– all that federal investment during the last 40 years that saved money in the long run.)
I urge you to request the following actions of the Appropriations Committee:
Allocate $2.066 billion for the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the primary federal agency that conducts research to find a cure and advance treatments for diabetes.
Provide $137.3 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation (DDT) whose mission is to eliminate the preventable burden of diabetes through research, education, and by translating science into clinical practice.
So now I’m picturing my representative receiving this email from me and thinking to herself, “Man, this ordinary citizen is really specific in his demands for appropriations … exactly $2.066 billion for NIH, exactly $137.3 million for CDC … he must have really done his research to come up with those figures.”
The annual costs of diabetes will continue to skyrocket unless we invest in stopping the spread of diabetes and finding a cure. If Congress does not take action, diabetes will overwhelm the healthcare system with tragic consequences for all Americans.
Yes, the cost of diabetes could indeed overwhelm the healthcare system. I don’t care if we’re talking about private insurance, Medicare, ObamaCare, or all of the above; when a third of population is diabetic or pre-diabetic, we’re going to run up medical costs we can’t afford to pay without sinking the rest of the economy. No method of payment will solve that, because no method of payment will generate wealth that doesn’t exist.
But I’m pretty sure getting the federal government more involved isn’t going to avert this disaster by fixing the diabetes epidemic. In fact, I’m reasonably sure federal involvement in the food-production and dietary-advice business is part of what got us here in the first place – along with helpful advice from the ADA, which still tells people to avoid saturated fat and eat plenty of whole grains.
Happy April Fools’ Day, ADA. Thanks for the laughs.