Before getting started, let me make a couple of important declarations:
• I don't drink much pop (known as "soda" by those of you out East). Oh, I'll have the occasional root beer on the weekend if we take the kids to our favorite sandwich shop, but very little beyond that.
• I oppose Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to ban jumbo soft drinks in New York City. I think it is a huge overreach of the government's authority. Besides, have you been to the Big Apple recently? Big Gulps are hardly the city's most worrisome health problem.
OK, with that out of the way…
While I oppose Mayor Bloomberg's approach — and was happy to see a state court strike down the ban — I applaud his conviction for wanting to attack one of the most serious health care crises facing not just his city, but the entire nation.
The number of New Yorkers with type 2 diabetes stands at 11 percent, up from 8 percent 10 years ago, New York Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, M.D., said during a press event Wednesday. One in nine adults in the city has diabetes, he added.
Nationwide, the number of Americans living with diabetes is at epidemic proportions, creating huge health and financial problems. The numbers (many included in this CDC fact sheet) are nothing short of alarming:
- Roughly 26 million Americans have diabetes — 19 million diagnosed and 7 million undiagnosed.
- Estimates show that by 2050 between 1 in 3 and 1 in 5 Americans will have the disease.
- An estimated 79 million adults aged 20 or older are prediabetic.
- Diabetes is responsible for $116 billion in direct medical costs and $58 billion in indirect costs.
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates.
- More than 60 percent of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.
The list could go on and on, but it is Friday and I'd rather not send you all into the weekend on a hyper-negative note.
On a more positive, "let's grab-the-bull-by-the-horns" note, we've been taking a year-long look not just at the problem of diabetes, but, more importantly, what health care organizations and others are doing to combat the disease in their communities. I think you'll find that many of the ideas are bit more sophisticated than banning sugary drinks.