Diabetes Forecast

Let's Turn Up the Heat

By Desmond Schatz, MD, President, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association ,

When water temperature rises from 211 to 212 degrees, something dramatic occurs: The once-calm water begins to boil. And as it does, the water changes form to create steam. Forceful steam has the capacity to power a generator, which in turn can create energy and tangible movement. 

We need that same intensification in our fight to stop diabetes.

I know you get it. You share the sense of urgency as you navigate life with this relentless disease. But for too many people in our society, diabetes is invisible. Diabetes has skyrocketed sixfold over the past 30 years—there are now nearly 30 million Americans living with it. That’s 1 out of every 11 Americans. Yet diabetes doesn’t get the attention and funding that other serious diseases (which affect far fewer people) receive.

At the recent Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, I shared the story of Katie, a 9-year-old who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a toddler. During my presentation at a diabetes-related event, I encouraged the audience to interrupt me at any time and ask questions. Katie wasn’t shy.

Cutting right to the chase, Katie confidently spoke up and asked when she would be cured. 

She wondered if we weren’t smart enough or just not working hard enough. Were we not spending enough money on researching a cure? It was clear she thought we should be doing more. I could hear the frustration in her voice. Her palpable sense of urgency moved me. 

As I struggled to answer, I realized that while there have been great advancements in treating diabetes and its complications, our progress toward finding cures is not nearly swift enough.

You and I need to turn up the heat. Together, we need to bring awareness of diabetes to 212 degrees. We need to kindle support for advocacy, education, and research until we reach that boiling point. We need to make sure that diabetes is highly visible, frequently discussed, and the target of our very best research efforts. 

Would you join me in turning up the temperature in our society and mobilizing those around us to advocate for the crucial work against this epidemic? Please visit diabetes.org/advocate and join me in becoming a Diabetes Advocate. We’ll write to, call, and meet with elected officials at the local, state, and national levels to demand increased funding and to fight for fairness for all people affected by diabetes.

I want to be able to look Katie in the eye and tell her that we share her urgency and are doing everything we can to achieve a world free of diabetes and all its burdens. Now is the time. Together, you and I can make it happen.



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