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
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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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