050813 js 0182r“One of the biggest problems associated with diabetes is the high number of people who are unaware they have this disease,” -State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D- Chicago Heights)

SPRINGFIELD - Over 25 million children and adults are estimated to be living with diabetes in the United States. Of this total, seven million are undiagnosed and untreated, leaving them at risk for severe long-term health problems or even death.

In the African-American community, diabetes is more prevalent and more deadly, making proper care and prevention even more important.

Because the number of diabetes cases is steadily rising, State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D - Chicago Heights), who has a family member with diabetes, sponsored Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Day at the Capitol.

“One of the biggest problems associated with diabetes is the high number of people who are unaware they have this disease,” Hutchinson said. “Today’s event highlights the importance of regular screenings for everyone, especially those whose families have a history of diabetes.”

The Austin Peoples Action Center, in conjunction with Walgreens, hosted the event, which provided free screenings for diabetes and a number of other tests, including cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index. Pharmacists from Walgreens were on hand to perform the tests and offer guidance if abnormal test results were recorded.

“It is important for us to get the message out that Type II Diabetes is avoidable, if only you are educated and provided with the right information and resources,” said Cynthia Williams, CEO and President of Austin Peoples Action Center.

To draw attention to the importance of diabetes testing, Hutchinson herself was tested.

“With the disease running in my family, I know the importance of regular screenings and what I can do to lead a healthy life free of diabetes,” Hutchinson continued.

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