Obama Declares November National Diabetes Month on Halloween

A presidential memo labeling next month as a time for increased awareness of the disease is at odds with the (misguided) link between diabetes and sugary treats.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
Oct. 31, 2013, 11:12 a.m.

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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