This has not been a good month for anyone in the world. But there has been some especially bad news about diabetes this month, too.
On Veteran’s Day, the International Diabetes Federation called upon the G20 world leaders — who were about to meet in Turkey Nov 15-16 — to discuss a sugar tax to help reduce, and pay for the global disease burden of both obesity and diabetes.
Diabetes has now emerged as the biggest “killer disease” globally, surpassing HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. (See: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/12/us-health-diabetes-sugar-idUSKCN0T100K20151112#C30Xvj0aGKKIX2MZ.97 and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/diabetes-deaths_5643e784e4b08cda348777bf).
The IDF compared the crisis in diabetes to the global financial crisis of 2008, and pointed out that the global economy is at stake if we cannot get the epidemic under control. Currently 415 million adults globally have diabetes (the largest number of cases are in China), and we spend $673 billion in diabetes care. By 2040, one in every 10 adults in the world are expected to be diabetic, with cases projected to reach 642 million with healthcare spending on diabetes to reach $802 billion.
Then the Paris attacks of 11/13 happened, and no one in Turkey talked about diabetes. And fewer Americans talked about turkey. Instead, the global response to the Paris ISIS attacks dominated all discussions. Once again, the U.S. is faced with debating sending ground troops to fight a war – perhaps even a world war. This time, we’re going to need a lot of troops, and resource allocation is a problem. Our strained, all-volunteer military is exhausted after multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here’s where all this connects.
In the U.S., we don’t have enough fit people to even recruit into the volunteer military because of obesity issues. See: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/12/most-americans-are-still-too-fat-defend-america
In fact, my first blog was about this problem. See: http://endocrineethicsblog.org/childhood-obesity-and-national-security-widespread-consequences/
The number of ground troops needed from the U.S. to fight ISIS is estimated to be around 50,000 (see: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2015/11/18/former-military-strategist-significant-ground-troops-needed-to-defeat-isis/).
If we need that many, we’re going to have to bring back the draft. (In fact, Russia just did that last month). It may be that bringing back a draft, along with a sugar tax, would also solve the “diabesity” problem. Our young adults would be forced to get fit. Our older adults would consume less sugary foods, and would even help pay for the war.
Is it ethical to have a draft? At times, it is ethically justified to have a military draft; WWII met that criteria. And maybe, in the face of this heinous threat, now would be a good time to bring it back. Making our young adults fit could not only combat the obesity threat at the same time, but may prolong more lives, even when weighing the risks of putting them in harm’s way.
Not quite the usual Turkey talk in November, but that’s how Diabetes Awareness Month went down in 2015.