World Diabetes Day and the History of the Blue Circle

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We all know November is Diabetes awareness month, and November 14th is “World Diabetes Day.” But what is the meaning of the “blue circle” and why do we celebrate and advocate for diabetes so much this month? I asked Keegan Hall, the President of the Young Leaders in Diabetes Program to talk a bit about the history.

Many causes and conditions have a colored ribbon to symbolize the cause. In the diabetes community, we have done something very different—a blue circle.

The blue circle is the universal symbol for diabetes. Until 2006, there was no global symbol for diabetes. The purpose of the symbol is to give diabetes a common identity. It aims to:

  • Support all existing efforts to raise awareness about diabetes
  • Inspire new activities, bring diabetes to the attention of the general public
  • Brand diabetes
  • Provide a means to show support for the fight against diabetes

What is the history of the blue circle?

The icon was originally developed for the campaign that resulted in the passage of United Nations Resolution 61/225 “World Diabetes Day.”

The campaign for a United Nations Resolution on diabetes was a response to the diabetes pandemic that is set to overwhelm healthcare resources everywhere. The campaign mobilized diabetes stakeholders behind the common cause of securing a United Nations Resolution on diabetes. The United Nations passed Resolution 61/225 ‘World Diabetes Day’ on December 20, 2006.

Why a circle?

The circle occurs frequently in nature and has thus been widely employed since the dawn of humankind. The significance is overwhelmingly positive. Across cultures, the circle can symbolize life and health. Most significantly for the campaign, the circle symbolizes unity. Our combined strength is the key element that made this campaign so special. The global diabetes community came together to support a United Nations Resolution on diabetes and needs to remain united to make a difference. As we all know, to do nothing is no longer an option.

Why blue?

The blue border of the circle reflects the color of the sky and the flag of the United Nations. The United Nations itself is a symbol of unity amongst nations, and is the only organization that can encourage governments everywhere to fight diabetes and reverse the global trends that will impede economic development and cause so much suffering and premature death.

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