According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, British Columbia, like other provinces in Canada, is at a “tipping point” as far as Type 2 diabetes is concerned. It is estimated that almost 400,000 British Columbians are living with this diagnosis and an estimated additional 20 per cent of the population is living with prediabetic conditions. The concern is not just about current statistics; it is expected that by 2020 there will be an increase of almost 40 per cent in diabetes prevalence unless people start living a healthy, active lifestyle.
So why are these numbers of concern? First, diabetes can have a dramatic impact on personal health. Although diabetes, in itself, does not typically lead directly to death, the long-term complications such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease do. Because diabetes shares several risk factors with other chronic diseases, many people report having other serious chronic conditions (hypertension, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mood disorder, and/or arthritis) in addition to diabetes, further complicating health treatment and outcome.
Secondly, historically, type 2 diabetes was viewed as an adult disease. However, it has now become one of the most common chronic diseases among children and youth. One of the major modifiable factors that increases a child’s or youth’s risk for diabetes is being overweight. Most overweight children do not outgrow this problem and, in fact, many continue to gain excess weight as they mature into adolescent and adult years. For type 2 diabetes, the early onset of the disease increases the risk of related complications and lifelong consequences.
Regular monitoring of infant and child growth is key to identifying the risk of obesity early. Children who are at particular risk of obesity, or are already overweight and obese, need focused support to change both their eating practices and physical activity levels in order to attain a healthy weight. Improving parental awareness, knowledge and skills about healthy eating and physical activity are also key to addressing this issue effectively.
Finally, diabetes has a serious impact on the medical system and the economy. People with diabetes make more trips to doctors’ offices, are more likely to be hospitalized, and tend to stay in the hospital longer. The result is that the financial burden of treating diabetic patients is high – expected to rise to 16 billion dollars annually by 2020.
You might not know if you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. To support you and your family in preventing or managing type 2 diabetes, the Agassiz Community Health Centre will be hosting a public information day on Tuesday, Nov. 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Recreation and Cultural Centre (formerly called the Fitness/Activity Centre), 6660 Pioneer Avenue. You will be able to have your blood glucose tested, have access to advice from health professionals, learn about activity programs available at the Fitness Centre and gather important information to take home and read.
Unlike many other chronic diseases, in most instances, the course of diabetes can be “tipped” allowing people to live long and healthy lives. Start by getting your blood sugar level tested.
-Agassiz Community Health Clinic