Diabetes reaching epidemic levels, says doctor

Bonnie Belec
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More than 50,000 people are living with diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador and it isn’t slowing down, a gathering was told Monday morning.

Theresa Gale, a diabetes educator nurse at the Janeway Children’s Hospital, signs the Diabetes Charter for Canada which was unveiled Monday across the country. The document was created to bring awareness to the growing number of people being diagnosed in Canada, which has hit the three million mark.
— Photo by Bonnie Belec/The Telegram

According to statistics provided by the Canadian Diabetes Association Newfoundland and Labrador, another 88,500 are living with symptoms which may eventually lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Research has shown about 50 per cent of those will eventually be diagnosed with diabetes.

“The concern is the fact that it is increasing despite all of our efforts and has almost reached an epidemic level,” said Dr. Pradip Joshi, clinical chief of the medicine program at Eastern Health.

“We really need better strategies to deal with it,” he said.

Joshi said one part of that plan is the Diabetes Charter for Canada which was unveiled across the country Monday including an event in St. John’s.

The idea is to empower Canadians with diabetes and their caregivers, while also providing governments with a standard of care to ensure there is comparable support for people living with diabetes across the country.

“In Newfoundland, because we have such a high rate of obesity and diabetes we really need to make a concerted effort to get it under control,” said Joshi.

“The charter will be an important aspect of that. It’s a partnership. If we can get everyone together it will certainly make an impact on it and the complications associated with diabetes,” he said.

Statistical information from the association says the costs associated with those complications will be more than $280 million this year and projected to reach $335 million in 10 years if the disease isn’t managed.

“One of the biggest concerns if you have diabetes is risk of cardiovascular disease goes up tremendously,” said Joshi.

“About 70 per cent of patients die from cardiovascular. That is a huge burden for people and the state so I hope the charter will focus on that and help us to mobilize groups to help improve it,” he said.

Of the 57,600 people diagnosed in the province, only 2,741 are Type 1 — when a person is insulin-dependent because the pancreas isn’t producing enough or none at all.

People with Type 2 are not insulin dependent and sometimes the disease can be controlled with lifestyle changes.

However, some people do receive medication to treat their symptoms if they can’t manage it through exercise and diet.

 “We talk about both, Type 1 and Type 2, but in Newfoundland it’s mostly Type 2 which is very high, though we do have some increase in Type 1, the  majority are middle-aged patients with Type 2,” said Joshi.

“But over the last 10 years we’ve been seeing a lot of younger patients with Type 2, patients in their 20s, and 30s, and that has to do with inactivity, obesity and all kinds of other issues,” he said.

Carol Ann Smith, the association’s regional director for the province, said the charter gets people talking about it, the stigma associated with it and an awareness that people aren’t alone.

“It provides a shared voice and a common vision for people living with diabetes in Canada,” she said.

A year in the making, Smith said the charter outlines the rights and responsibilities for those living with the disease, as well as the responsibilities of governments who are part of the fight to treat it and help get it under control.

According to a news release, health and patient charters exist in about two dozen countries, including Canada. They describe the rights and responsibilities of a specific population and serve to drive improvements in programs and the delivery of health services.

To sign the charter, go to mydiabetescharter.ca.



Organizations: Type 2, Canadian Diabetes Association Newfoundland and Labrador, Eastern Health Diabetes Charter for Canada

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Stewart Simonson
    May 01, 2014 - 16:42

    I think it is our country's' addiction to Doppler Microwave Radars. We now are pulsing 600 million watts of 2.0-6.0 GHz radiation into the atmosphere and through biology 24/7 with our weather radars, FAA airport radars and Military radars. I have good data that they are killing fish in surrounding waterways in Florida. There are over 30 studies now linking microwave radiation to negative biological effects. Research @ darkmattersalot.

  • Michael
    April 09, 2014 - 01:11

    Doctors also need to be more specific in their advice with those at risk for diabetes. Some key important things are to avoid white flour, that includes white breads, white pasta, white rice, all of these are bad carbs that not only can raise blood sugar but put on weight. People also need to read the labels of things they buy, avoid regular refined sugar and anything that contains high fructose corn syrup and any form of hydrogenated oils don't buy/eat it, they are bad for your health even if you don't have problems with your sugar. Eat things in moderations and choose the right fats, healthy foods such as whole grains, lean meats such as turkey and chicken (remove the skin) fresh fruits and veggies, good fats from foods such as sunflower seeds, fish, walnuts are all rich in good omega 3 fats. Walking everyday even if you have to go at a slow pace if you suffer from pain not helps with your sugar but is good for your health in general, helps to keep weight and cholesterol in check. Limit your bread to 2 slices per day and your bread should come from whole wheat/whole grains. Of course every person is different so always talk to your doctor first and ask a lot of questions if you don't understand things. Cinnamon also helps to naturally regulate blood sugar (but you still need to eat a healthy diet) If you don't like the taste of cinnamon many places sell it in the vitamin section of the stores. My advice comes from my own person experience, I use to be very much overweight and my sugar was at the border line, I lost all the weight the fight and healthy way and it's now 6 years I've kept it off and my sugar is completely normal. The government needs to have more progams to help people because of the high cost of food.

  • diana power
    April 08, 2014 - 19:33

    I am a diabetic, would love this program, hope we have his here.

  • Irene
    April 08, 2014 - 17:58

    Frankly, I don't understand the rather sudden epidemic of diabetes all over the world and not just wealthy nations. I have seen one cause as possible being a flu virus and provoking immunological problems. I have also considered that since the 70s, when HRT was popular and later not in vogue, diabetes may have resulted from that. But statistics would be required with males versus female groups. When I became menopausal many factors which could cause diabetes resulted: muscle/fat ratio changed, blood pressure skyrocketed, weakness in exercise, thyroid changes, and other diabetes-related causes. Diabetes 2 is an age-related disease mostly and lack of HRT may produce all the aging factors causing diabetes.

  • Contender
    April 08, 2014 - 15:03

    Yes, there is a cure; stop drinking, quit smoking, eat a decent diet and get some exercise. Type 2 diabetes is a choice in many cases, or a series of bad choices over a lifetime.

  • C Manning
    April 08, 2014 - 13:07

    You mean to tell me ,after all these years there isn't one researcher capable of coming up with a cure for diabetes!Look what Banting and Best did with their limited resources and knowledge.Again,in my opinion,the drug industry will NEVER allow any cures for any diseases because it's just too big a money making venture.Just saying!:(

    • Diabetic Type 1
      April 08, 2014 - 14:30

      Hi C. Manning, Yes, you are correct. The TEST TAPES alone is very profitable for the Pharmaceutical Industry. I test my blood sugar up to 6 or 7 times a day usually, but my government controlled Health Insurance pay for them. I've been taking Insulin since I was about 18 years old. This year I will be 71 so I have had my ups and downs with my Diabetes and other sicknesses over the years. I've been living in Europe since 1970; where I have gotten good medical care from Diabetic Specialists. I will never live long enough to see a cure for Diabetes, but I do hope that governments everywhere will soon realize that MONEY is there for research, but they prefer giving it out for other unnecessary research that we don't really need. Health is more important that anything else in this world. You can't buy good health in a shop, but you can make life much easier if you found a cure through RESEARCH for the many sicknesses we have on this earth; including Cancer.