A Universal Symbol for Diabetes?
Who knew!

Have you ever seen this universal symbol for diabetes? I had no clue!

Since 2006 we've been dealing with Jake's juvenile diabetes . We've learned so much about the disease and have gotten involved in several of the organizations which support diabetes research.

Then I came upon the universal symbol for diabetes quite by accident! I was reviewing some research on diabetes statistics sponsored by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) when I stumbled on it.

Several questions came to mind...

  • Where did it come from?
  • Why was this symbol chosen?
  • What is the purpose of the symbol?
  • Who owns the rights to the Blue Circle?

Here's what I found...

Where did the blue circle come from?

Diabetes advocates were seeing the number of new cases of diabetes increasing at an alarming rate. They created a campaign to ask the United Nations (UN) to pass a resolution on diabetes.

The goal was to get world leaders to acknowledge the growing trend in diabetes (both type 1 and 2). Also to recognize the crushing cost of diabetes on the world's economies and health care systems.

The universal symbol for diabetes was created as a visual icon to represent this campaign for the resolution.

This blue circle gives a common identity for diabetes around the world.

Why was a circle chosen?

In cultures around the world, the circle represents life and health. It also stands for unity.

The campaign used the circle to represent the uniting of the world around the issues of diabetes.

Diabetes statistics blatantly indicate diabetes cannot be ignored. The trends show the doubling of new cases in certain age groups. The cost of diabetes will put enormous stress on the world's health care systems.

Why is the circle blue?

Light blue is the color of the sky which wraps around the world. Blue is also the color of the UN flag.

Blue seemed a logical color to represent a growing problem which stretches around the world. The circle symbolizes the uniting of the world to bring attention to the worldwide crisis of diabetes.

Results of the blue circle campaign

The UN has the ability to unite leaders around the world to address global issues. The goal of the campaign was to share data and request the UN pass a resolution specific to diabetes and bring this disease to the forefront.

The efforts of the campaign resulted in the UN passing Resolution 61/255 in 2006.

In 1991 the IDF attempted to draw attention to the increasing issues of diabetes by declaring November 14th as World Diabetes Day. This date was chosen each year to coincide with Frederick Banting's birthday. Banting, and his partner Charles Best, are the scientists charged with discovering insulin . Check out the history of diabetes to learn more about Banting and Best.

Now that a Resolution had passed, the IDF adopted the blue circle as the universal symbol for diabetes. It's now used as a logo for World Diabetes Day every November 14th.

Who owns the universal symbol for diabetes?

The information I'm sharing with you was found on the IDF website.

The IDF owns all rites to the blue circle icon. We can share information about the symbol. Any use of the international symbol for diabetes for commercial purposes must be approved by the IDF.

My comments on a universal symbol for diabetes

In the US, we are familiar with recognizable symbols supporting very important causes.

The color pink and the pink ribbon represent the Susan G. Komen Foundation in search of a cure for breast cancer. The whole month of October is filled with activities and events to raise awareness and funds to find a cure. Even our football teams don pink accessories in support of this important cause!

In the US, it's estimated 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer! The National Cancer Institute states that the cost for treating breast cancer in 2010 was about USD 16.5 Billion.

The American Heart Association uses the red dress as a symbol to promote healthy living practices and awareness of symptoms in the quest against heart disease in women.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US with about 1 million deaths each year. The Heart Foundation says heart disease will be the leading cause of death in the world by 2020.

According to the ADA, 2 out of 3 diabetics will die from heart disease or stroke!

This number is staggering when you realize the trends estimate that 1 out of 3 people (men AND women) in the US will be diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in their lifetime!

But, even with these dramatic increases we're seeing in new cases of diabetes, I've never seen or heard of the blue circle as the universal symbol of diabetes in the US. November 14th comes and goes in the US without any mention of the World Diabetes Day and the blue circle!

Many countries of the world recognize this symbol. They plan activities to support World Diabetes Day. One of the most popular events is businesses around the world light their buildings with blue lights on November 14th. This acknowledges World Diabetes Day and creates awareness of the increasing burden of diabetes.

Yet it seems the US isn't taking advantage of the blue circle in recognizing the issues diabetes is creating around the world.

Through our support of the IDF, each of us can make a difference in spreading the word about the universal symbol for diabetes. We need to make the blue circle for diabetes as recognizable as the pink ribbon is to breast cancer and the red dress to heart disease!

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