As part of his ongoing efforts to improve health and wellness in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a law to raise awareness of diabetes. Under the new law, every Nov. 14 will be "Diabetes Awareness Day" in the state of Illinois. November is American Diabetes Month, and more than 800,000 Illinois residents are living with the disease, double the number 20 years ago.
"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. "I would like to thank Leader Cross for his longtime commitment to increase awareness and prevention of diabetes."
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. The governor signed the new law at Edward Hospital, which has provides counseling and extensive education for individuals living with diabetes.
"We've had tremendous support in the legislature and from our local and state diabetes communities to make today's law a reality. It is so important to know the risk factors of diabetes and to consult your doctor if you are experiencing them," said Leader Cross, who founded the Illinois Diabetes Caucus and 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.
Individuals who have diabetes have too much glucose in their blood, which can cause serious cardiovascular and nervous system problems. Although Type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes can occur at any age, the most commonly diagnosed form of diabetes is Type 2, formerly called "adult-onset" diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputations and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States and is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
The Illinois Department of Public Health offers programs aimed at preventing diabetes, such as the Illinois Diabetes and Prevention Control Program and the Illinois Tobacco Quitline. For more information please visit: www.idph.state.il.us. The new law goes into effect immediately.