MEDIA ADVISORY: HELP Committee to Hold Hearing on Diabetes Epidemic in America

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 – The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), will hold a hearing Thursday, December 14 at 10:00 a.m. ET titled, “What is Fueling the Diabetes Epidemic?”

The type-2 diabetes epidemic and the obesity epidemic are directly related and both epidemics are getting worse. In the United States today, more than 35 million Americans are struggling with type-2 diabetes – 90 percent of whom are overweight or obese. This crisis is not only negatively impacting the health of the American people, it is also very expensive. Last year alone, the total estimated cost of diabetes was nearly $413 billion in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association.

This crisis is being fueled by large, profitable corporations in the food and beverage industry which spent $14 billion last year on advertising products that are predominantly high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat – products that put more Americans at risk of type-2 diabetes. About $2 billion of this money is used to directly market unhealthy food to children. During the last presidential election cycle, the food and beverage industry spent a record-breaking $42.5 million on campaign contributions to elect candidates who will protect their interests.

While the food and beverage industry is fueling this crisis, the pharmaceutical industry continues to make it harder for millions of low-income and working class Americans to access life-saving prescription drugs to treat diabetes and obesity. People with diabetes face an average of $19,736 in medical expenses, approximately 2.6 times higher than expected costs for people without diabetes. Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic costs $12,000 per year in the U.S., but just $2,000 in Canada, and $750 in Germany. Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro costs $13,000 per year in the U.S., but just $2,000 in the United Kingdom.

“We have a diabetes epidemic in America and an obesity epidemic in America that are both directly related and getting worse each and every day,” Sanders said. “At this hearing, I look forward to hearing from some of the leading experts in America about the role that large, profitable corporations in the food and beverage industry have played in this crisis by directly advertising unhealthy products to our children, among other things. I also want to hear from our experts about what we can do to lower the outrageously high price of diabetes drugs like Ozempic. As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, I intend to do all that I can to address the diabetes crisis in America.”

What: HELP Committee hearing titled, “What is Fueling the Diabetes Epidemic?”
When: 10:00 a.m. ET, Thursday, December 14
Where: Room 430, Dirksen Senate Office Building. The hearing will also be livestreamed on the HELP Committee’s website.
Who: Senate HELP Committee Members. Witnesses include:

  • Ashley Gearhardt, PhD, Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Lindsey Smith Taillie, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Kasia Lipska, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
  • Natalie Stanback, Volunteer, JDRF, Lewisville, TX
  • Aaron J. Kowalski, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, JDRF, New York, NY