Thursday was a day devoted to raising awareness of Diabetes in Wisconsin, as World Diabetes Day was marked at the Capitol. Joey Balistrieri is a Wisconsin Youth Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association. He has Type 1 diabetes which is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, in which the body does not produce insulin. Joey’s message to other young people in his situation is empowering. “They shouldn’t be embarrassed that they have it. They didn’t ask for it, so they shouldn’t be afraid to tell people that they have it,” said the student at Holy Apostles School in New Berlin.
Sue Hjelsand, Program Director with the American Diabetes Association of Wisconsin, said a diagnosis of diabetes is really a family diagnosis. “When you’re talking about wanting to eat healthy, when you’re talking about incorporating daily excercise into your life and just having a very positive, proactive attitude for it, it takes the whole family to be able to do that.”
In Wisconsin, some 500,000 people have a diagnosis of diabetes, a number that is soon expected to exceed 700,000. Diabetes educators say diet and exercise remain key to controlling Type 2 diabetes.