June 2, 2011

ADA: Eat Cupcakes for The Cure or Why You Should Hang up on ADA Telemarketers

When this email hit my in basket I thought it was one of my many correspondents indulging in a joke. But it was June 1, not April 1, and, sadly, the email turned out to be real.

It was sent by "Austin-based competitive food eater Hungry Todd Rungy" and it announced that in support of the American Diabetes Associations "Tour de Cure" Mr. Rangy would "attempt to break the world cupcake speed eating record at this year’s Cupcake Smackdown, on June 4th!"

The email continued, "By speed eating sugar-free cupcakes, Hungry Todd Rungy wants to bring attention to the Cure de Tour and their efforts to help stop a disease that affects over 23 million Americans, let people know what they can do to contribute to the American Diabetes Association..."

This, my friends, is a good example of why you should tell all your friends and family to hang up on the ADA telemarketers who are calling this month to raise money for the American Diabetes Association.

The sad truth is that this particular fundraises encapsulates everything that is wrong with the ADA. This extremely powerful organization, which dominates the discussion of diabetes and provides the treatment guidelines most family doctors follow, has a long, ugly history of working against the interests of people with diabetes.

Indeed, a case could be made that the ADA is the single worst thing that ever happened to people with diabetes. In brief here's why:

1. The American Diabetes Association is not working towards a cure. The organization is run by and serves the interests of the industries that profit from people with diabetes: drug companies, food companies, and doctors. It funds very little research of any kind, but concentrates on "education" which is centered on teaching people with diabetes that they can "eat normally" and, despite a decade of research contradicting this concept defines "tight control" as a blood sugar less than 180 mg/dl (10 mmol/L) two hours after a meal--a level that guarantees complications.

2. The ADA is headed by people who do not have diabetes and gives those of us who do no significant role in the organization except when it is time to raise funds. Most ADA executives were health industry lobbyists (i.e. big pharma stooges) before they got their very well paid jobs as ADA honchos. The few doctors involved are those "high profile" doctors who have received huge amounts of money from drug companies--the same doctors who urged patients to keep taking Avandia for a year after it was shown to raise the risk of heart attack, and who have fought for a generation against teaching people with diabetes that eating carbohydrates raises blood sugar and eating less carbohydrates lowers it.

Though the organization raises hundreds of millions of dollars in our name, The ADA shuts out people with diabetes who its chief executive has referred to as "poor victims." The ADA raises money in the name of those "victims" but gives them no voice in the organization except when its time to trot a few of them out as poster children. The role they assign people with diabetes is to shut up and do what they are told.

3. The ADA gives a false impression of how it uses the money it raises. The main function the ADA serves is supposedly "education." Most of that education turns out to promoting the toxic advice that teaches people with diabetes to dine on dietary abominations like this Havana Banana Cake you will find on the ADA web site.

Though you will see "carb counting" emphasized on its redesigned web site, the ADA urges people with diabetes to eat at least 50 grams of carbs per meal, an amount few Type 2s on oral drugs can metabolize without damagingly high blood sugars.

It could be argued that ADA's one useful educational function is that it publishes the journals Diabetes Care and Diabetes which are filled with reports of research studies that are ignored by the ADA's policy makers. But before you convince yourself that contributing to the ADA will help continue these publications, you should be aware that the ADA has made these journals a profit center. They are extremely expensive to subscribers--$395 a year, each.

But that's only the beginning, because these journals charge the researchers who publish in them hefty page fees. Currently they are as follows:
Page charges are assessed for Original Articles and Brief Reports to help defray costs of publication. The charge is $90 per page. As noted under Color Figure Approval (Section 4.5.), each color figure printed will incur a charge of $490.

4. The ADA's fundraising practices are among the worst in the charity industry. They use telemarketers who pocket one out of every five dollars raised. The Charity Navigator web site awards them one star out of a possible five. (View their rating HERE.)

5. The ADA has abrogated the role of defining how diabetes is diagnosed and how it should be treated despite the conflicts of interest implied in its corporate-influence funding and ex-drug company lobbyist leadership.

It has long set the diagnostic criteria arbitrarily in a way that ignores decades of reproducible research. (Details HERE.) The guiding principle seems to be to ensure that people with Diabetes continue to eat the junk foods produced by its sponsors and counteract the very high blood sugars they produce by taking as many expensive, poorly tested, oral drugs as possible.

The practice guidelines and diagnostic criteria the ADA publishes are treated as gospel by America's family practitioners and have a strong effect on WHO's recommendations too, even though study after study shows that their diagnostic criteria fail to diagnose large groups of people and that their recommended blood sugar targets are high enough to produce significant complications.

In fact, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists'(AACE) review of the relevant data have concluded tht the blood sugar targets the ADA recommends for people with diabetes are high enough to produce retinopathy (leading to diabetic blindness), kidney failure, and nerve damage. But the ADA has ignored the AACE blood sugar target recommendations for almost a decade now. Probably because it is impossible to reach the AACE targets without testing blood sugar after meals and lowering carbohydrate intake.

For those of you who wonder, the AACE recommends testing after meals and keeping blood sugars under 140 mg/dl at 2 hours. The data emerging from heart disease research suggests keeping blood sugars under 155 mg/dl (8.6 mmol/L) at one hour, and my recommendations based on that and many other research studies is to keep them under 140 mg/dl (7.7 mmol/L) at one hour, if possible.

The ADA also describes as "tight control" a fasting blood sugar of 129 mg/dl (7.2 mmol/L) though it warns it will be difficult and possibly dangerous to attain this. The AACE recommends a fasting blood sugar of less than 110 mg/dl (6.1 mmol/L).

Every time I see a death notice in my local paper where the grieving relatives suggest that contributions in honor of their loved ones be made to the American Diabetes Association, I feel the way I would if a victim of drug overdose was being asked to contribute to the funding of a Mexican drug cartel.

A better name for this toxic organization would be The American Association for the Preservation of Diabetes, because that is what it does--probably because without diabetes the corporations and professionals who support it would cease to profit.

So when the ADA telemarketer calls you, don't send this toxic organization your money--and make sure that the people those who care about you are also educated enough to do the same.

And, before I forget, someone really needs to warn Hungry Todd of the probable effect on his digestive system of eating a record setting number of sugar free cupcakes. Those of us who have experienced the sugar-alcohol total clean-out know what I'm talking about.



Angelyne said...

That's the equivalent of a alcoholic with a case of alcoholic fatty liver disease deciding to go on a drinking binge in order to raise money for the AA.

Jenny said...

So true. Next up: Smoke-in to fight heart disease.

Jason Sandeman said...

Well, I think that Darwin should take care of that cupcake eating fool. How could someone be so stupid as to think that it would be a good thing? I might be mean, but come on, people!

Alicia Rasley said...

Interesting about the journals. I have MS, and the MS society sends a quarterly out (for free) giving the abstracts of all relevant studies, and the clinical trials coming up. That would seem to be sensible if they really want to help people with the condition.

Jenny said...

The ADA does nothing for free. Joining gets you a subscription to their dumbed down magazine full of drug company ads and recipes for cakes, pies, and starchy main dishes.It also gets you lots of spam from companies who sell diabetes products.

Jenny said...

I forgot to add, the ADA markets its membership at two tiers. One is "Health Care Professional". The other they label "Consumer".

How many other disease organizations see the people with their disease as "Consumers?" Not many. But since they main reason the ADA signs us up is so that they can sell us their sponsors' products, it makes sense.

michael plunkett said...

If the Heart and Lung Assoc was run like the ADA, cigarette smoking would be encouraged.

Bev said...

The ADA also receives only one star in the rating of charities and how they use their money. see http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3251

Jenny said...

Charity Navigator also points out that unless you specifically tell ADA not to sell your contact information, they will. That is their stated policy--and why joining them will open you to a world of marketing spam.

Soozcat said...

Is there any organization out there actually dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes, or is that still a pipe dream?

Jenny said...

Soozcat, The Diabetes Research Foundation has a reputation for funding research, but its focus is on Type 1.

Everyone else seems to be doing research that will lead to more drugs that cost $2,300 a year per patient and have to be taken for life.

People with Pre- and Type 2 Diabetes are such a profit center that if their condition were to be cured the collapse in the pharmaceutical and medical industries would cause a world wide depression.

. said...

Women's Health Initiative (WHI), another low-fat failure on diabetes control: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21562091

Jenny said...

O Primitivo, Thanks. It stinks that such an important finding was buried in the pages of a low impact journal. But the last thing anyone in the medical establishment wants to do is trumpet to the world that the advice they've been giving people for the last 60 years has been harming the people they are paid to help.

Ian said...

Wouldn't it be nice if someone could go up to this jerk (or maybe just misinformed genuine guy) after he's stuffed all these (no sugar!) cakes into his system and offer to check his BGL?

Preferably with some media coverage.

(I've had success with low-carb muffins made using lupin flour and Splenda, but I still wouldn't eat more than one or two at a time!)

Jenny said...

Ian, If he's got a normal glucose metabolism--and about 1/3 of the population does, he can eat all the carb he wants and he will still see normal blood sugars.

I once tested my son after Thanksgiving dinner. After multiple servings of potatoes, pumpkin bread, stuffing, cookies, and pies he clocked in at 93 mg/dl one hour after eating.

It is because normal people don't see any impact on their blood sugar of the carbs they eat that it is so hard to convince policy makers of the toxicity of carbs to those of us who aren't normal.

Note that in the study O Primativo cited the people with normal blood sugars saw a slight improvement in blood sugar and insulin resistance when they ate a low fat diet. It is only the people who can't metabolize carbs--i.e. people with the genetics that lead to diabetes--for whom carbs are toxic.

Witch of Stitches said...

My experience with Diabetes Education left me speechless. The nurse manager just kept pushing medications which my doctor was trying to avoid as I was "pre-diabetic - her words. The two dietitians I saw really got it about carbs and how I wanted to deal with my diabetes. They gave me a lot of help, but keep watching the door, afraid that the nurse manager would come in and hear them talking to me about a low carb diet. On the walls in every room were posters of the food pyramid and drug promotion posters. They sold cookbooks filled with recipes loaded with carbs, artificial sweeteners and advice that you CAN eat a "normal" diet with diabetes. I never went back.
I struggle with compulsive eating, but when I am on a low carb program, I see a dramatic drop in my glucose numbers very quickly. Now, if I could just get my act/issues together and stick to it.
I am one of those folks who cannot eat sugar alcohols as I found out when first diagnosed and went on vacation. Found a fudge store - oh the aroma - and behold - sugar-free fudge. Of course, I thought, I can have this! I spent the night and half the next day in the bathroom. Live and learn.
I am trying to get my current healthcare provider to take a look at your site and blog.

Steve Cooksey, Diabetes Warrior said...

Great post Jenny.

ADA's 'carb up and shoot up' diabetes treatment plan harms MILLIONS... yet they promote 'stop diabetes now', with their palms facing the sky. UGH!

All the best.

Jenny said...


It would be better if their palms were facing the sky instead of reaching into the pockets of well-meaning people who give their money under the illusion they are contributing to cure a disease the ADA's toxic strategies promote.

nodders said...

I dislike the ADA, its practices and policies, for my own personal and professional reasons (too many to mention), however if T2D, as I suspect, has a strong genetic component, isn't it the case that a possible "cure" is only ever -realistically- gonna be some costly pill that reduces symptoms (at best) but doesn't address the cause?

I mean, it's not like T1D where one day -but it's going to be decades in the future- mankind will manage to engineer stem cells to grow beta cells and fix the problem.

With T2D we are only starting to scratch the surface on how the metabolic syndrome develops.

Anyhow, all endocrinologists I know (including one on a low carb diet herself) seem to tell their patients that 100gr of carbs per MEAL is ok. When I ask them why they give such unhealthy message, they answer that it's "realistic", anything considered too restrictive and the patient gives up. :(

Jenny said...

Nodders no one drug will fix Type 2 diabetes because it isn't one condition. It's a symptom, not an actual disease. There are probably hundreds of different things that breakdown to cause high blood sugars.

Eliminating all the poisons in our food, air, and water would be a good place to start. If the ADA had any concern for people with diabetes they'd be actively lobbying to make the public aware of how industry is filling our bodies with chemicals that increase our insulin resistance and damage our beta cells, but I've never heard a peep out of any of their spokesmen (and they are always men) on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing up the chemical toxicity issue.

The causality is hard to tease out--mostly because the effects these chemicals have on the human body are so little-studied.

Things like diet, smoking, maternal weight/metabolic status have such an obvious effect that we forget about hidden issues like endocrine disruptors in our environment.

I have not doubt that the current sickness is multifactorial in cause.

Patrick said...

It seems to me that an alternative to the ADA is needed... now if only creating such an alternative were remotely within my skillset.

Jenny said...

Patrick, I'm with you there.

But it goes beyond skillsets, to money. The ADA is what it is because it is fuelled by gobs of Big Pharma and Big Food money. If you had an organization working for the interests of People with Diabetes, it wouldn't get those many millions of advertising dollars. So it wouldn't have the ability to publish and saturate the media with PR that the ADA has.

Plus, the ADA is so damned entrenched.