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Pennsylvania Senate Approves November As Diabetes Awareness Month

With the incidence of diabetes or pre-diabetes growing in this country, the Pennsylvania Senate has approved unanimously a resolution naming November as “Diabetes Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.”

“This disease effects approximately 29 million adults and children nationwide, but tragically over 8 million cases go undiagnosed," said Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny), who authored the resolution. "It is only through increased education, research and prevention that we can combat this epidemic.”

Prevention is cheaper than treatment, but Smith said the nation can no longer afford to place a price tag on fighting the diabetes epidemic.

“The cost of diabetes exceeds $245 billion in direct and indirect health care cost, but the cost and quality of life and productivity for individuals with diabetes is too great to measure,” said Smith.

He hopes the resolution will help further support the existing efforts of county health departments and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) about this major health issue.

The Allegheny County Health Department hopes to send a clear message to residents during the ADA’s annual EXPO on Nov. 8 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center — that this epidemic will be stopped.

Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, says around 11 percent of county residents have diabetes, which exceeds the national average.

“We are very concerned that if current obesity trends continue that this will not only be the issue that it is now, but that it will be even greater,” said Hacker.

The EXPO is intended to provide attendees with valuable education, and will feature free health screenings, cooking demonstrations, and interactive activities for the entire family.

Disease prevention plays an important role given the known relationship between Type 2 diabetes and obesity. 

“Losing weight is probably the most critical thing," Hacker said. "We know that the more weight you have the less sensitive you are to basically being able to utilize insulin.”

Diabetes is a chronic disease which requires regular care. Lack of management can lead to heart attacks, stokes, blindness, kidney failure and amputation due to poor circulation. But by proper management of sugar levels, blood pressure cholesterol and waist lines — diabetes complications can be controlled, if not prevented.

“We want to, number one, prevent diabetes from even occurring in the first place if possible, and, number two, for those people who do have diabetes, we really want to make sure that they are managing it appropriately and that they can live long healthy lives,” said Hacker.  

For additional information regarding the Live Well Allegheny EXPO, visit www.livewellallegheny.com.