AADE: Huckabee and The Ladies of Diabetes

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).

HuckabeeAs 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.

- 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 Seven_habits 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:

  1. Healthy Eating
  2. Being Active
  3. Monitoring
  4. Taking Medication
  5. Problem-Solving
  6. Risk-Reducing
  7. 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 :)


11 Responses

  1. Kassie
    Kassie August 3, 2007 at 8:54 am | | Reply

    did I mention I wish I was there?

    yay Bayer! Another free book!

  2. RichW
    RichW August 3, 2007 at 11:22 am | | Reply

    Ninety percent women, now I’ve lost all focus on why I want to be there. Thank you for the report on Mike Huckabee’s presentation. Maybe we need more politicians like him.

  3. Bernard Farrell
    Bernard Farrell August 3, 2007 at 11:30 am | | Reply


    Thanks for the update. I’ll bet Mike’s speech was a blast. I hope they put it up as a podcast sometime.

    And thank you for the book pointer. Stay cool!

  4. K
    K August 3, 2007 at 11:32 am | | Reply

    Just FYI – Huckabee makes good $$ off his talks about weight loss. He didn’t actually do much of anything to change the way health care was addressed in Arkansas so don’t think anything he says actually gets implemented. He’s all talk, no action and seems to just be reaping in cash for his weight loss. And I say this as a former Arkansan who’s seen this man at work for many years. That being said, I’m sure what he says is stuff people need to hear. But don’t think he’s one of those politicians who actually means what he says.

  5. Nick Torrey
    Nick Torrey August 3, 2007 at 8:00 pm | | Reply

    Sounds like a good speech. I’m doing some volunteer work for the Obama campaign, which has a new health care blog. Prevention is a big part of Obama’s health care plan (in addition to diabetes management) and I think the discussion on the blog could really benefit from your perspectives, so I invite everyone to visit it:



  6. Tesney
    Tesney August 4, 2007 at 2:43 pm | | Reply

    I like Mike. Went to college with his son and lived in Arkansas during that time. This was prior to his weight loss. I was pretty impressed with his humility and down-to-earthness at that time. Glad to hear he’s speaking on our behalf. Personally, I don’t mind if he makes a lot of jack for his speaking engagements…don’t they all?! I kinda feel like if he’s going to get paid anyway, at least his words are helping to bring attention to diabetes.

  7. AmyT
    AmyT August 4, 2007 at 4:23 pm | | Reply

    Well said, Tesney.

  8. Big_Dave_T
    Big_Dave_T August 5, 2007 at 11:25 am | | Reply

    Personally, I don’t like Huckabee’s insinuation, for example his comments to Michael Moore, that overweight people themselves are to blame for the mess our healthcare system is in.

    People spend a lot of time, effort and money trying to lose weight in this country. They don’t need someone like Huckabee laying a guilt trip on them if they don’t live up to his expectations.

  9. ems911brat
    ems911brat August 5, 2007 at 4:23 pm | | Reply

    Huckabee not only lost MY vote, but those of MANY in my area! Why? Just over a month ago Huckabee, Giuliani, and a few other blood sucking vampires showed up at a Memorial Service here for NINE firefighters who died in a fire.. these presidential wannabes only showed up for photo ops and to get votes.. they did not give a damn about the dead firefighters, the department or families of these brave men…

  10. Lauren
    Lauren August 5, 2007 at 4:24 pm | | Reply

    I am a fierce believer in personal responsibility — to be honest I have no sympathy for people who are physically capable of exercising but choose to lead sedentary lifestyles, eat fatty foods and animal products, etc., then develop heart disease and insulin resistance. As much as I disagree with unhealthy lifestyle choices, I still believe in universal, non-discriminatory healthcare. So I don’t see eye-to-eye with Huckabee, which is not surprising, since he is a Republican and I lean pretty far to the left. Not to ignite a political debate, but the Democrats are the ones I’d trust to look after the needs of Americans with health problems.

    I applaud Huckabee’s decision to live healthfully, but I hope he remembers that not all type 2 diabetics can “cure” themselves with diet and exercise, and no amount of lifestyle modification will get a type 1 off insulin. (Trust me, I wish it could.)

  11. Jill Knapp
    Jill Knapp March 6, 2009 at 7:29 am | | Reply

    Just learning about Mike Huckabee was really touching. Good for him. My name is Jill Knapp and I have Type 2 diabetes.
    I am all about family and love spending as much time with them as possible.
    My 2nd passion is bringing awareness to Type II diabetes. It is near and dear to my heart. Since being diagnosed a little over 3 years ago, I have lost over 85 pounds. March 2007 is a special chapter in my life. It was the month my struggle to control my diabetes took on a whole new light. I reached my goal weight set by my doctor and was able to be taken off all artificial means to control my diabetes.
    My diabetes is now under control through diet and exercise. With weight-loss and exercise, Type II Diabetes can be managed or prevented.
    My success at controlling my diabetes has led to a new found dedication and passion in educating others on how to eat right & exercise. It brings me great joy to share my story with others and in doing so inspire them to “get up and get moving!”
    I love helping others and sharing my story.
    Visit my web site at http://getupandgetmoving.net

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