Let’s face it; you can’t afford to be sick. Let me be more specific, you can’t afford diabetes.
Who wants to deal with a condition that’s attacking each organ in your body? It’s an extremely expensive condition. What disease isn’t? You may ask. They all are. But today on American Diabetes Alert Day, it’s my duty to inform Americans about the seriousness of the disease.
Did you know that diabetes is avoidable?
Well, not type I but type II can be prevented in many cases. Now don’t look at me in that tone of voice. I hear you asking, “If a certain type of diabetes is avoidable, why is the number of people suffering from it growing at a phenomenal rate?” Well, you’re right. In the last year, those impacted by this disease have grown by 60 million. That's the size of the population of Italy.
According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately $245 billion dollars were spent in 2012 for the treatment and management of diabetes in America...What if I told you that you could reverse your diabetes? What if what you eat could dictate how much you spend on medication?
But here’s what’s even more jaw dropping: According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately $245 billion dollars were spent in 2012 for the treatment and management of diabetes in America. Diabetes is, no doubt, a big dollar business. But is it necessary? Are diabetics spending money needlessly? Is fear keeping diabetics from living healthy, happier lives?
As an advocate for people living with diabetes, I have traveled the world and studied what seems right and wrong in the big business of "helping” the sick. I’m an outspoken critic of big pharmaceuticals, but more so the marketing firms that spend their money to "get the word out."
Now you know they are in the business of making a profit, not finding a cure. According to PEW Charitable Trusts, which tracks pharmaceutical trends, big Pharma spent more than 27 BILLION dollars in 2012 to promote their drugs to the public and medical professionals.
So how much money each year is spent on prevention advertising? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
In my lifetime I have never seen a pharmaceutical commercial encouraging diabetics to eat better food, get more active, sleep better and/or generally take care of their bodies. There's simply no profit in preventing or controlling the disease without meds or lowering medication.
This week I introduce you to 43-year-old Shawn Morbaugh. He lives in Florida and has suffered from diabetes since he was 36. Shawn has a loving wife and child that he must care for. However, finding work with his teeth in this condition has been difficult.
The ability to just smile and kiss his wife has also been very hard for many years. The sicker he becomes, the more he spends, and the more pharmaceutical companies earn. And the cycle continues. I am committed to helping Shawn live a healthier lifestyle and I’m searching for a dentist in Florida to help him get a new set of dentures.
In theory, having access to medical and drug information seems like a great way to inform patients about their options, and give them necessary tools to live longer, healthier lives. But in reality, the majority of money spent on drug advertising is done so for a limited number of drugs, many of which are not necessarily life saving, but rather "lifestyle" drugs. Heartburn, insomnia, cholesterol, asthma and allergy, nail fungus, blood clots and erectile dysfunction are the most common ailments that Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising targets.
As a chef, a diabetic, and a diabetic advocate, my goal is to share ideas in this column. Some will piss off pharmaceutical companies and some diabetics. No matter whose toes I step on, I am dedicated to being the voice of serious change. I want to touch lives, to save lives; to open the conversations of how the almost 400 million with diabetes can come together to be one voice.
Chances are you, or someone you know, has type I or type II diabetes. In the next few weeks I am going to challenge you to think about your health from a different perspective. What if I told you that you could reverse your diabetes? What if what you eat could dictate how much you spend on medication? Did you know that just losing 7 percent of your body weight could control Type II diabetes?
It’s time that we stop making pharmaceutical companies filthy rich. Don't get me wrong, I am not against them making money, my real issue is them not putting more back into the educating of the people. Lets have the big boys reach out to people like myself and others to get this message out and create campaigns that really work. And it’s time that we stop letting diabetes rage out of control.
As with Shawn, I am committed to helping almost 400 million people living with diabetes around the world combat this disease.
[This is the first column in a series of installments on diabetes from Chef Charles Mattocks for NBCBLK]