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Public Health

An Artist Puts Diabetes On The Map

Artist Mark Cline paints a mural, commissioned by drugmaker Novo Nordisk, to draw attention to the rising toll of diabetes in the United States.

Novo Nordisk YouTube

Ever hear of the Institute of Alternatives Futures? No? Me neither.

But the outfit, founded back in 1977 by Alvin Toffler and other folks who call themselves futurists, has just finished up some projections on where diabetes is headed in this country. The outlook is not good.

Now, anybody who has been paying even the slightest attention to public health already knows that diabetes — especially type 2 diabetes — is a big and growing problem. Unless Americans get a whole lot more serious about losing weight, one-third of adults in 2050 could be diabetic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last year.

But getting people to pay attention isn't so easy.

That's where the IAF analysis, commissioned by Novo Nordisk, a big maker of diabetes treatments, draws on CDC data and information from other sources to come up with specific projections by state and even some metro areas for the number of people who are likely to have diabetes in the future. There are also some figures on what all the diabetes-related illness will cost.

Great. More numbers, you say. So how do you break through diabetes fatigue?

Novo Nordisk hired Denver artist Mark Cline to paint a mural in Washington's Union Station to present some of the highlights. A spokesman for the company said in an e-mail that the mural was a one-time event "to raise policymakers' awareness of these figures."