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Eliminating the risk factors

PRINCETON — The Bureau/Putnam County Health Department has joined state health officials in encouraging people to safeguard themselves, so they don’t join the rising number of people with diabetes.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the percentage of Illinois adults diagnosed with diabetes rose 60 percent between 1995 and 2010, and that number is projected to increase another 25 percent by 2020.

With November designated as American Diabetes Month, IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said residents need to learn the risk factors associated with diabetes and how to reduce or eliminate those risk factors.

“With more than 827,000 adults in Illinois diagnosed with diabetes and more than 2,700 residents dying from the disease each year, you need to know how to control your risk of being diagnosed with diabetes,” said Hasbrouck. “First, learn your numbers – weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels – and then talk with your health care professional about what you can do to make sure those numbers are at a healthy level.”

Bureau/Putnam County Health Department Administrator Diana Rawlings said approximately 7 percent of residents of Bureau and Putnam counties are diabetic, according to information gathered for the health department’s IPLAN. Statewide, an estimated 9 percent of Illinois residents are diabetic.

To help area residents learn about diabetes, Rawlings said the health department is beginning its second year of its We Choose Health grant, with a focus to reduce obesity through increasing nutrition and physical activity.

Currently, the health department is working with three area school districts to implement changes that will help children, teachers and staff be healthier, including reducing and preventing obesity. The health department has also completed a pilot Worksite Wellness program and will offer this program to businesses and schools in the upcoming year.

In general, there are some simple things people can do to help with their weight and health, such as getting up and moving more throughout the day, Rawlings said. Another simple strategy is to drink more water.

Benjamin Fogle, health educator for the local health department, said weight and weight loss is controlled primary by three main factors, which are nutrition, physical activity and genetics. People cannot change their genes, so they must focus in on the two other areas to make an impact, he said.

In the area of nutrition, Fogle recommended things like replacing an unhealthy snack or snack time with something healthy. Being prepared is a big factor, he said.

“People on the go often eat unhealthy because of its convenience,” Fogle said. “When focusing on your diet or your physical activity, it is important to think long-term with a lifestyle change that can be maintained.”

For people to learn more about symptoms and risk factors of diabetes, Rawlings said the American Diabetes Association has a great website explaining diabetes, how to prevent it and how to manage it. Also, your local doctor can use a simple blood test to determine if someone has diabetes or is at higher risk for developing diabetes. Most importantly, doctors can help people lower their risk of developing diabetes, or if they are diabetic, help people control their diabetes, she said.

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