The Real Fight over Health Care Should Be Against ‘Diabesity’

Posted by: admin on: April 9, 2012

Forget the Supreme Court hearing over Obama’s health-care bill, the real fight should be against the obesity and diabetes tsunami engulfing America. Dr. Mark Hyman on why doctors and the health system has it all wrong.



  • How do we stop and turn back the tsunami of chronic disease, in particular, diabesity—the continuum of obesity, pre-diabetes, and diabetes that is the major driver of 21st-century suffering and health-care costs?
  • Diabesity is the hidden cause of most heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke, dementia, many cancers (breast, colon, prostate, pancreas, liver, and kidney), and even depression. Yet is it almost never treated directly because there is no good drug for it.
  • Over the next 20 years $47 trillion will be spent around the world to address chronic diseases caused by diabesity.
  • How our next president addresses this will determine whether or not we bequeath a bankrupt, desperately sick nation to our children, the first generation of Americans who will live sicker and die younger than their parents.
  • The good news is while we cannot solve problems like war or natural disasters, we can solve Diabesity.
  • Diabesity is nearly 100 percent preventable, treatable, and very often curable.
  • As Donald Rumsfeld said, this is a “known known.” The science is clear, the strategies well documented (if little applied).
  • Diabesity affects one in two Americans, yet is not diagnosed in 90 percent of those who have it.
  • In fact, there are no national screening recommendations for pre-diabetes or for persons at high risk for diabetes.
  • The implications of this medical blind spot are staggering—the single biggest cause of chronic disease is overlooked and not treated 90 percent of the time.
  • Twenty-five percent of those over 65, one in five African-Americans, and one in 10 across the whole population have diabetes.
  • One in three children born today will have diabetes in their lifetime. And pre-diabetes affects up to 150 million Americans.
  • Diabetes alone accounts for one in three Medicare dollars spent. Diabetics cost health plans five times more than non-diabetics ($20,000 vs. $4,000).
  • By 2014, when 16 million more citizens are eligible for Medicaid, the burden of costs will be even greater.
  • By 2042, 100 percent of the federal budget will be required to pay for Medicare and Medicaid, leaving nothing for defense, transportation, education, agriculture, environment, or anything else.
  • The insurance reform at the heart of the Affordable Care Act allows for better access to medical care, including medication and surgery.
  • It laudably promotes improved efficiencies, reduction in medical errors, better care coordination, and implementation of best practices.
  • But what if we are coordinating the wrong kind of care? What if our best practices are the wrong practices? Our toxic industrial diet, our sedentary lifestyle, chronic stress, and environmental toxins cause diabesity and its attendant downstream ills (often mislabeled as something else, such as hypertension, cancer, heart disease, dementia).
  • Drugs and surgery are feeble, ineffective, costly, and often harmful treatments for lifestyle-induced illness. They are misguided efforts at best, dangerous at worst.
  • Mounting evidence proves that the solution to lifestyle- and diet-driven obesity-related illnesses won’t be found at the bottom of a prescription bottle; they will be found at the end of our fork.
  • Prescription medication for lifestyle disease has failed to bend the obesity, disease, and cost curves. Statins have been recently found to increase the risk of diabetes in women by 48 percent.
  • And factoring in the increased risk of diabetes when statins are used to prevent first heart attacks, there is no net benefit, and significant potential harm from statin use in the over 20 million Americans who take them.
  • Avandia, for example, the No. 1 blockbuster drug for type 2 diabetes, has caused nearly 200,000 deaths from heart attacks since it was introduced in 1999.
  • The large ACCORD trial found in more than 10,000 diabetics that intensive blood sugar lowering with medication and insulin actually led to more heart attacks and deaths.

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