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States fight diabetes.

Diabetes is chronic, debilitating and costly.

So costly, in fact, that "one of every five U.S. federal health care dollars is spent on treating people with diabetes," according to the Congressional Diabetes Caucus. More than 26 million Americans live with the disease. That's triple the number diagnosed in 1980 and, if current trends continue, approximately half of all minority children born in 2000 will develop some form of the disease in their lifetime, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Uncontrolled, diabetes can affect the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, skin and gums. Since Type 2 diabetes results, in part, from a lack of exercise and an abundance of high-calorie food, some state policies are aimed at increasing physical activity and nutritional standards in schools and informing the public about how to prevent it.

"We've been working hard over the last year and a half to raise diabetes awareness, education and testing across Illinois," says House Republican Leader Tom Cross, who joined the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus in 2011. "And we plan to expand and build on our efforts in the years to come."

In 2011, the caucus teamed with the Illinois Diabetes Policy Coalition to host a conference with lawmakers, doctors, caregivers, diabetics and others to discuss how to help people with the disease and prevent others from getting it.

Lawmakers designated November diabetes awareness month and passed legislation that:

* Requires parents who seek assistance at school for the diabetic care of their children to submit diabetes plans.

* Provides aides to help children with diabetes to follow their plans at school.

* Requires training for school employees and gives them civil immunity for responding in good faith.

Illinois lawmakers also chose to continue funding Type 1 diabetes research and authorized a pilot program for a neonatal diabetes registry. Last year, caucus members hosted free diabetes screenings at 23 sites across the state, testing hundreds of adults and children.

In Connecticut, staff from the Department of Health--working with the Connecticut Diabetes Advisory Council, health care professionals and others--created a five-year plan in 2007 to stop, or at least delay, the growth rate of diabetes in high-risk populations. It also addressed the needs of those already diagnosed to prevent further costly and debilitating complications. The plan spurred two programs: an annual conference for diabetes professionals and an educational seminar that teaches people with diabetes the best ways to manage their chronic conditions, which is sponsored by Stanford University and funded by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

By March, lawmakers in 30 states had introduced some 160 bills on diabetes that, for example:

* Specify when and how to list diabetes on death certificates.

* Describe what kind of diabetic care must be provided in schools.

* Set diabetes or physical education requirements for schools.

* Support breastfeeding (which reduces the risk of the baby developing Type 2 diabetes later in life).

* Approve license plates highlighting diabetes to help fund research.

* Tax diabetic supplies.

* Require state goals and plans on fighting the disease.

Did You Know?

* Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

* Health care costs average 200 percent higher for diabetics than for people without the disease.

* Native Americans have the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes.

* More than 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes.

* About 7 million people have diabetes and don't know it.

* If current trends continue, one in three U.S. adults will have diabetes by 2050.

* Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74.

* Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.

* The risk for stroke is two to four times higher among diabetics.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Diabetes Association, February 2013
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Author:Hinkley, Kara Nett
Publication:State Legislatures
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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