Mulvaney’s Statement Highlights Diabetes Misinformation

On Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Trump Administration said:

We have plenty of money to provide that safety net so that if you get cancer you don’t end up broke… That doesn’t mean we should take care of the person who sits at home, eats poorly and gets diabetes.”

By way of that quote he is saying that people with diabetes are at fault for their poor health and they do not deserve the nation’s health insurance. We at Diabetes Hands Foundation disagree and feel the need to clarify the misinformation around it.

Learning About Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
  1. Type 1 diabetes: is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas, and causes it to stop producing insulin. Type 1 Diabetes isn’t preventable or curable, and leading studies point to both environmental and genetic risk factors.
  2. Type 2 diabetes: If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. While obesity and lifestyle can be contributing factors of Type 2 Diabetes, they are not the only contributors. One of the main contributors to Type 2 Diabetes is a genetic predisposition. There are many people that exercise and eat well that still have Type 2 Diabetes.
Treating People with Diabetes as Human

 Whether a person has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, “you’re not doing enough” doesn’t increase motivation. We need a healthcare system that recognizes:

  1. We should not generalize all people with diabetes  into “people that sit at home, eat poorly, and get diabetes”.
  2. Diabetes is a complex disease, with multiple social and environmental factors, many of which lie outside the Person with Diabetes (PWD)’s control.
  3. We must work within a supportive, motivating framework. Healthcare budget should include money for prevention, education, and support. Cutting funding is not the answer!
  4. PWDs are human and we deserve compassion as we struggle to learn how to manage a new diagnosis. We aren’t perfect, but we care about our health, and want support to be energetic!  
We believe there are social and environmental factors contributing to Diabetes, and that we should be responsible on a national level, not just a personal level.  
  1. Food insecurity (lack of money for healthy food budget, or lack of access to healthy food by living within a food desert).
  2. Food deserts (areas where healthy food is difficult to obtain due to lack of grocery stores in a reasonable distance).
  3. Food industry politics (government subsidies of sugar).
  4. Industrialized food made with chemical additives.
  5. Historical policies that have favored personal automobile use over public transportation funding.
  6. Work environments that do not allow break times, fresh air, time for meditation or any kind of physical activity.
  7. Lack of open space in a neighborhood, dangerous cities, or other factors that make it unsafe to play or exercise.
  8. Less funding in public education for physical activity.

Over the next few months, we at Diabetes Hands Foundation and Diabetes Advocates will be doing pieces on the stigma associated with diabetes, working to unravel some mistaken stereotypes, and work towards a more understanding healthcare system. Combating this stigma will take a united group effort, each of us PWDs speaking our experience and asking for the care we deserve.