[caption id="attachment_44" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Dr. Lou Philipson, Dr. Kenneth Polonsky, Mr. Warner Saunders , Rep. Mike Tryon, Rep. Jim Durkin, Peggy Hasenauer and Rep. Tom Cross at Illinois Diabetes Awareness Day."][/caption]

CHICAGO — Nov. 14, 2011 marks Illinois’ first Diabetes Awareness Day thanks to House Resolution 557, sponsored by House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). The day lands on World Diabetes Day — which celebrates the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, carried out experiments in 1922 that led to the discovery of insulin to manage diabetes — and converges with American Diabetes Month.
“Diabetes is a disease that affects nearly 10 percent of the residents in Illinois,” said Rep. Cross. “It not only affects those residents, but also their family and friends. Creating more awareness about this important issue will help others better recognize the signs of diabetes and hopefully lead to better treatment options.”
The Illinois Diabetes Legislative Caucus, led by Rep. Cross, physicians from the Medical Center including the Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs and Dean of Pritzker School of Medicine Kenneth Polonsky, and renowned Chicago broadcaster Warner Saunders hosted a press conference announcing the designation was held Monday at the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Kovler Diabetes Center.
“Diabetes Awareness Day is an occasion to ponder both the worrisome surge in diabetes cases and the promising scientific efforts under way to treat this difficult disease,” said Louis Philipson, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine and pediatrics and director of the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center. “At the University of Chicago Medical Center, discoveries are made every day that will shape the future of how we treat all forms of diabetes.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, Illinois has 800,000 citizens diagnosed with diabetes and another estimated 500,000 who are not aware they have the disease. Illinois’ estimated direct healthcare cost from diabetes is $7.3 billion per year.
“We are working to bring events and awareness fairs throughout the state to help bring awareness to advances in medicine and the need for education for those who have diabetes but we believe this state wide day will help us educate citizens on a much larger scale,” said Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake).
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.
“As a member of the Kovler Leadership Board, I hope that this inaugural Illinois Diabetes Day brings attention to the challenges faced by patients with this disease across the state of Illinois, particularly those in underserved areas,” Saunders said.