Although the idea that eating too much sugar can directly cause diabetes is a myth, the association between sweets and the disease affecting more than 25 million Americans is fixed in cultural humor. Specifically, the connection between sugary treats and Type 2 diabetes, which can be triggered in part by lifestyle factors, such as being overweight as a result of a poor diet.
So, it's unsurprising that an announcement on the day of Halloween designating November as National Diabetes Month may draw some laughs.
President Obama wrote in a proclamation Thursday afternoon, "With diabetes ranking among the leading causes of death in the United States, my administration is committed to supporting Americans living with diabetes, investing in promising scientific research, advancing work toward improved treatment and care, and bolstering prevention efforts."
Half of all American adults will consume candy on Halloween this year, USA Today reports. So will almost every child in the nation. October is perennially the biggest month for global trade in confections and chocolate. The National Confectioners Association predicts that Americans will shell out $2.4 billion for Halloween treats this year. Even at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, MarketWatch reports, candy sales did not waver.
Gorging on candy one day out of the year will boost your insulin levels temporarily, giving you a surge of energy for about two hours. By no means will it cause diabetes. But a regular diet high in calories from any source of food contributes to weight gain, one of the biggest risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. This connection is usually why many people mistakenly think getting hopped up on sugar too much, too often could lead to developing diabetes. But there is one shred of truth there. Research has shown that there is a link between drinking sugary drinks, such as soda, fruit punch, and sweetened teas, and Type 2 diabetes.
Obama's announcement included a shout-out to the first lady's Let's Move! initiative, which aims to teach kids about healthy food options. Something tells us they won't be listening tonight.
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