Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WDD Gripe: The Blue Circle

In the seven years I've been blogging here at Scott's Web Log, I have occasionally written about World Diabetes Day, and my first post in 2005 (in the early days) wasn't exactly the kind the media was anticipating -- instead, I gave them a royal lashing (see my post from 2005 HERE)!  I know it's World Diabetes Day and I'm SUPPOSED to be the super-advocate singing the praises of living a full, wonderful life in spite of having autoimmune type 1 diabetes, but to me, this day has never been something I thought was a good thing.  People hear about it and read about it for 1 day, and forget about it for the other 364 days of the year.

To begin with, let's talk about the International Diabetes Federation's "blue circle".  The organization has so many freakin' restrictions on it's use (see their guidelines at for all the things we can and cannot do with the blue circle).  No offense, IDF, but if you want this to become as widespread as pink ribbons, loosen up ... A LOT!!  They note "The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) holds all rights to the blue circle for diabetes. The symbol may not be used without prior permission by IDF."

There are too many damn restrictions on what can and cannot be done with the blue circle, yet, not surprisingly, there are also exemptions.  Notably "The Official World Diabetes Day Partner logo is for exclusive use of corporate partners of the International Diabetes Federation."  Sure, pay us money and we'll give you lots of leeway on using the blue circle.

I'm going to take what may be a violation of the lengthy list of rules and restrictions, but I'm not a fan of the blue circle.  Correction: the symbol does NOT belong to the IDF, but to PEOPLE WITH DIABETES (although a court of law might disagree).  Don't freakin' tell me I can't use the circle a certain way, because that makes me less likely to use it all.  I'm just sayin ...

Beyond blue circles, while Dr. Banting's discovery has kept me alive for 35 more years than I would otherwise be around, to some extent, I think had insulin never been discovered the world would put a significantly higher priority on eradicating, preventing and curing diabetes.  Instead, it's been a big f'ing excuse to blame patients for noncompliance with a treatment protocol that is arguably a life sentence with no chance of parole.  Should I somehow be "celebrating" that?  I don't think so.  What's more, if people were dying from diabetes, don't you think society might do more to get rid of this disease?  My friend Deb Butterfield, back in the early part of the 2000's, eloquently wrote (see her article HERE):

"Our neighbors, coworkers, friends, and relatives learned that diabetes is controllable. The theme reinforced the belief that diabetic disabilities and their associated economic costs are caused by diabetics [or to be more politically correct, "people with diabetes"] - not by diabetes [the disease].

Now think for a moment what would happen if the campaign had announced, 'Diabetes disables and kills. Only a cure can stop the suffering,' with pictures of a little boy leading his blind mother around a grocery store and a voice-over explaining that diabetes is suffering. This campaign would create a fundamental shift in the way diabetes is perceived. The public would see diabetes as the enemy, as we see cancer and AIDS as enemies. They would worry that if it isn't cured, it could happen to them, or to their children. A 'Diabetes Disables and Kills' campaign could change the face of the disease by removing the smile that has so long been attached to it in product advertising and brochures in doctors' offices and pharmacies. Perhaps public outrage that there is no cure yet would create political pressure to increase funding for cure-focused diabetes research."

I, for one, after 35 years of living with type 1 diabetes, am dam sick of others telling me how I'm supposed to think about diabetes.  Let me be very clear: it's my disease and I can think about it whatever way I choose, and the blue circle belongs to patients with diabetes not the IDF.  I'm entitled to feel as if our disease gets fewer research dollars than less-prevalent diseases do because it does -- society doesn't think a diabetes cure is a priority.  If you don't believe me, please visit the FAIR Foundation at to learn more.

As a point of reference, in 2013, the NIH will allocate $419 (dollars in millions and rounded) to diabetes compared to $543 (dollars in millions and rounded) for urologic diseases.  I'm sure urologic diseases suck beyond belief for those who have them, but when we see stats that as much as 30% of Americans will have diabetes by 2030, I think a serious reprioritization is in order.

Sorry to be so cranky about this, but World Diabetes Day isn't really a day we should be celebrating, its a day we should be asking these questions!


Pearlsa said...

Well said Scott, I love that you question things.

Scott Strange said...

Thanks for writing this Scott, you've summed up how I've felt this year about it...

Scott K. Johnson said...

Good questions and points, Scott. I'm glad that you ask them. Hopefully this will generate some useful conversation!

Boop82 said...

Guess I need to watch my self. I have a blue circle tattooed on me. I don't think it matches up to their exact measurement or color choices though, so I'm good there.