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Congressman to speak at meeting on diabetes and obesity

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago) will give opening remarks when the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies convenes a regional meeting Sept. 21 at the University of Illinois at Chicago to discuss the rapidly rising rates of diabetes and obesity in the U.S.

"Obesity and diabetes are grave public health issues for our communities, particularly in underserved populations," Davis said. "A recent report found that Illinois was one of eight states with childhood obesity rates greater than 20 percent. With 26.6 percent of our adults obese, Illinois ranked 26 among the nation's heaviest states. Addressing these issues through research, clinical care and community outreach is a top priority for academic institutions such as UIC and other area universities."

The UIC Midwest Conference on Diabetes and Obesity will bring together leading scientists, physicians and community health experts. Causes, treatment, preventive measures and policy issues will be discussed by participants from academia, industry and government. The conference, hosted by the IOM, UIC and the UIC College of Medicine, will be at the UIC Forum, 725. W. Roosevelt Road.

"UIC is proud to co-sponsor this important meeting on a critical health concern," says UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares, who is an elected member of the IOM and chairs a section of its membership committee. "Diabetes has long been a research focus at UIC, where the Chicago Diabetes Project coordinates the research of collaborators on three continents to develop a cell-based therapy to achieve a functional cure. We look forward to the day when this scourge, along with its companion, obesity, is brought under control."

Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions and may soon become the world's leading cause of death. According to the Chicago Diabetes Project, in 1985 there were 30 million diabetics; today the number has skyrocketed to more than 197 million. By 2025, diabetes is likely to affect more than 300 million people worldwide. The condition leads to serious medical complications including amputations, blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, are obese or overweight. The two conditions are so strongly associated that decades ago scientists began using the term "diabesity."

The conference's morning session will focus on biomedical advances and prevention of risk. Following a lunch talk about the Chicago Diabetes Project, the afternoon session will address health policy and interventions. The keynote address, by Dr. Jerrold M. Olefsky of the University of California, San Diego, is on genetic and basic studies of the metabolic syndrome in animal models.


Contact: Bill Burton
University of Illinois at Chicago

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