As part of his ongoing efforts to improve health and wellness, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law to raise awareness of diabetes. The law also proclaims every November 14 as “Diabetes Awareness Day” in the state. The governor signed the new law at Edward Hospital, which provides extensive education and counseling for individuals living with diabetes.
November is American Diabetes Month, and more than 800,000 Illinois residents are living with the disease, double the number 20 years ago, according to the press releasepress release. “In order to prevent diabetes, we must continue to raise awareness and educate people about the importance of leading a healthy, active lifestyle to lower the risk of diabetes,” Governor Quinn said.
Sponsored by House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), House Bill 5003 is designed to increase awareness of diabetes and educate Illinois residents about how to live healthier and prevent the disease. Leader Cross, who founded the Illinois Diabetes Caucus, is a member of the board of directors of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Illinois Chapter.
“As a member of the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus, I have led the effort to designate November 14 of each year as Diabetes Awareness Day in Illinois,” said Sen. Hunter. “This and other initiatives, such as my work to reinsert the Diabetes Research Check-off Fund into next year’s income tax form and exempt the check-off from being removed from the form in the future, helps to raise awareness of this dreadful disease while providing resources to combat it in the future. I applaud the governor for his leadership in signing this legislation.”
Governor Quinn has long worked to encourage Illinois residents to adopt healthy lifestyles, which can help prevent diabetes from developing in some cases. Last year, he launched the "Walk Across Illinois Challenge," a program that aims to improve the health of Illinois residents by increasing walking exercise. “Diabetes Awareness Day” will help remind residents to make decisions – healthy eating, exercising and not smoking – to lower the risk of getting diabetes.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the number of Illinois residents who have diabetes has more than doubled over the past 20 years, reaching approximately 800,000 in 2011. The Department also estimates that an additional 500,000 people are unaware they have the disease. Of Illinois adults with diabetes, 18.6 percent are 65 years of age or older. Diabetes-related care in Illinois costs around $7.3 billion each year.