Thank God for air conditioning, or there's just no way the throngs of diabetes educators in St. Louis this week (at the AADE's annual conference) would stand a chance to learn a thing. But as it is, "the ladies of diabetes" have taken over the America's Convention Center, complete with pasted-over Men's Room signs and discreet black curtains covering the urinals. Honestly, this event's at least 90% women.
But onto the news, and there is much of it. Consider this my Day One post.
The Wednesday morning keynote speech was delivered by former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. He's the legendary fat-to-fit politician lost 110 pounds and morphed himself from lifelong couch potato to marathon runner after his diagnosis with Type 2 diabetes in 2002. He actually wrote a book called "Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork," and has become an outspoken advocate for fixing America's health crisis -- not "healthcare" crisis, he differentiates. (He's also mixing it up lately with Michael Moore over ulterior motives).
As you might imagine, the guy is pretty charismatic. Let's just say it was one of the funniest speeches I've ever heard on the topic, ''diabetes is a national emergency." Some salient points that drew applause:
- This country is obsessed with weight, when we should be obsessed with health. Taking care of your overall health will solve your weight problem.
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- Three behaviors are wrecking America's health: overeating, under-exercising, and smoking.
- Children born now are in the first generation not expected to live as long as their parents or grandparents -- largely due to the rising incidence of Type 2 in younger people. Many will have heart disease or kidney failure by the time they're 30.
- What we now have is not a health care system, but a sick-care system. Eighty-percent of our healthcare spending is at the "catastrophic level" of chronic disease.
- What we need is a broad societal change toward a culture of health rather than a culture of disease. This means not just changing school lunch menus, but changing our national eating habits and restructuring communities to foster more physical activity.
- This is going to be a long, slow process. But if you doubt that it can happen, consider these major changes over the last few decades:
- throwing litter - what used to be an offhand habit is now an intolerable crime
- seat belts - "Wha, you wanna install a strap in your car, sir?" The way we used to bounce around in the back seat as kids is almost unthinkable today
- smoking - it was once considered rude to ask a smoker to put it out. Need I say more?
- drunk driving - former fodder of late-night comedians. No one thinks it's funny since MADD got busy
All these cultural changes took a generation, too. So why can't we change the way this country thinks about health?
Not to neglect the funny stuff, Huckabee has two basic rules about eating, if you don't care to get fancy about it:
1) If it wasn't a food 100 years ago, it isn't a food now
2) If it comes through the car window, it isn't food
Furthermore, he says lots of folks down south often ask him for advice: "What's more important, nutrition or activity?" To which he replies, "That's like asking, which wing on the airplane is more important, the one on the left, or the one on the right? Personally, I want both wings on my airplane." The educators definitely caught his drift.
In other first day news, it's all about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People with Diabetes this year -- new from "Seven Habits" author Dr. Stephen Covey of FranklinCovey (yes, the organizer people). He's applied his principles of success to the official AADE7(TM) Self-Care Behaviors to achieve better disease management. Don't let these items shock you or anything, but here they are:
- Healthy Eating
- Being Active
- Taking Medication
- Healthy Coping
You can actually get a free copy of the book from Bayer by filling out just a little formie HERE.
Also, the AADE has a new logo that highlights education with a bold E. I do prefer it to that circle with the italicized letters, which always reminded me of Entenmann's pastries for some reason. I'll post the new look as soon as I can get my cyber mitts on an online image. See #5,above :)