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News Release

Media Contact:
lcif@lionsclubs.org

For Immediate Release

Diabetes Prevention Remains a Key Concern for Lions

OAK BROOK, Illinois, February 29, 2008—Awareness about the endemic disease diabetes takes center stage on Tuesday, March 25 as the American Diabetes Association (ADA) sponsors National Diabetes Alert Day.  This annual day acts as a “call to action” to find out if you are at risk for getting diabetes.

Lions have a long-standing commitment to the awareness of diabetes that dates back to 1984. Since then, Lions International has adopted a long-term promise to increase awareness of the disease, especially since diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. An overwhelming 7 percent, or 20.8 million, of adults and children in the United States have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have already been diagnosed with diabetes, 6.2 million people remain unaware that they have the disease. As the presence of diabetes throughout the U.S. continues to grow each year, spreading awareness about the disease becomes even more imperative. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, however both genetics and environmental factors, like obesity and lack of exercise, appear to be correlated to its diagnosis.

To further address the growing problem of diabetes, LCIF established diabetes prevention and control as part of LCIF’s Core 4 program in 1999. Since then, 15 diabetes-related grants for US$1.3 million have been approved. The grants have supported camps that teach children to live with the disease, large-scale screening and treatment programs and projects to raise awareness of the disease. Additionally, LCIF awarded nearly $5 million to the ADA, the world's largest source of non-governmental support for diabetic retinopathy research, for research on diabetic retinopathy. The grants funded 56 researchers in nine countries. In addition, the funding resulted in a greater understanding of the disease and laid the groundwork for more effective treatments.

LCIF also supports diabetes awareness and prevention through the Lions Eye Health Program (LEHP). One of the main focuses of LEHP is to inform communities about preventable vision loss due to diabetic eye disease. The LCIF program encourages early detection and timely treatment through eye exams and education.

Through Lions advocacy, awareness about diabetes continues to be at the center of attention in the U.S., further continuing the fight for a healthier and happier country. Participate in this year’s National Diabetes Alert Day and become one of the many Lions that contribute to the fight against diabetes.

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Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world with 1.3 million members in 201 geographic areas and countries. LCIF was recently ranked the number one NGO in a Financial Times study. Since the beginning of the SightFirst program in 1990, Lions have restored sight to 7.3 million people with cataracts, prevented serious vision loss in 27 million people, and improved eye care services for hundreds of millions of people. LCIF has awarded $211 million in SightFirst grants. For more information, visit www.lcif.org.

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