Diabetes in Canada, like other countries around the world, is on the rise. About 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Nearly 90% of these have Type 2 Diabetes, a preventable but growing disease. Risk factors affecting the onset of Type 2 Diabetes include
- Being overweight
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Being of Aborginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian, or African descent
While having it's own complications, having diabetes also raises the risk for stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and impotence.
Here are some more shocking statistics about Canadians with diabetes from the Canadian Diabetes Association.
10 Statistics about Diabetes in Canada
- Approximately 80% of people with diabetes will die as a result of heart disease or stroke
- Diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year
- Canadian adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die prematurely, compared to people without the disease
- Life expectancy for people with diabetes can be shortened anywhere from 5 to 15 years
- Canadians with diabetes incur medical costs 2-3x higher than those without
- Medication and supplies for diabetes range from $1,000-$15,000 a year
- By 2020, it's estimated that diabetes will cost the Canadian healthcare system $16.9 billion a year.
- People at risk were able to reduce their risk by 58% by exercising moderately
- People at risk were able to reduce their risk by 58% by losing just 5 to 7% of their body weight
- People over the age of 60 were able to reduce their risk by 71% through moderate exercise
So what, specifically, can be done to lower risk?
10 Tips to Lower Risk of Diabetes
These tips come from the Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Guide Booklet on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website.
- Educate yourself. Whether or not you have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, the most crucial step you can take in managing your health and lowering your risk is getting educated. Talk to your healthcare provider about symptoms or risk factors you need to be aware of. Ask for brochures and pamphlets with information on diabetes and do your own research at home. The more you know, the better you can care for yourself to avoid it.
- Eat meals and snacks at regular times. Try to eat at least every four to six hours.
- Eat smaller portions.
- Eat slowly. Taking time and enjoying your meals will lower your stress, help you digest better, and get more full on less. If you feel you're still hungry, wait 20 minutes before getting a second helping. You may not want it by then.
- Eat a variety of foods. A mix of brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, poultry, fish, etc., are good choices.
- Limit your intake of highly processed, sugary, salty, and fatty foods. Soft drinks, french fries, high-fat dairy, and alcohol fall into this category.
- Stay physically active. You may need to speak to your doctor before starting any physical activity. They can also help you decide what the best way for you to get active is and provide some guidance.
- Get to a healthy weight. Eating well and exercising regularly will help you achieve a healthy weight for you. Your healthcare provider will help you determine what your healthy body weight is.
- Keep a diary of your goals and progress. This will help keep you on track and will motivate you to be healthier for yourself and your family.
- Reduce your stress. This is the hardest part of all, as we all have many areas of stress in our lives. If you can't remove yourself from it, find healthy ways to cope with it, such as meditation, counseling, and deep breathing. Your doctor can provide more stress-reducing ideas for you.
Making these changes in your life won't happen overnight. It will take some trial and error and stopping and starting to get into the routine. However, the benefits of living a health life will not only lower your risk for developing diabetes, but improve the quality of your life, add years to your lifespan and make you happier.