Prior to 1945,
diabetes was practically unknown in Native communities in Canada.
It is now estimated 27 per cent of First Nations people
will have Type 2 diabetes within the next 20 years,
that increase in the disease is expected to be seen also
among Inuit and Metis people.
At nearly 16.1 percent,
American Indians and Alaska Natives
have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes
among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups.
Diabetes Prevalence Among American Indians and Alaska Natives
Diabetes was the fifth most prevalent health problem reported among the adult non-reserve Aboriginal population. It has become an important health issue because rates are rising among the Aboriginal population, particularly among non-reserve North American Indian adults. In addition, diabetes is being diagnosed at younger ages, is more severe when diagnosed and has high rates of complications. In 2001, 8.3% of non-reserve North American Indian adults stated that they had been diagnosed with diabetes compared to 5.3% in 1991. For the total Canadian population the age-standardized rate was 2.9%.
Aboriginal Awareness Campaign
"Diabetes was particularly prevalent among older Aboriginal women in 2001. Among Aboriginal women aged 65 and over, one in four reported they had been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with one in 10 for all Canadian senior women. For Aboriginal men the gap was smaller, with one in five Aboriginal senior men reporting diabetes compared to one in seven for all Canadian senior men."
from the September 24, 2003 Statistics Canada report
on the Aboriginal Peoples Survey
YOU CAN PREVENT DIABETES
BE ACTIVE. HAVE FUN
YOU CAN PREVENT DIABETES
As a Mother I Have the Power to Prevent Diabetes
( Above are .pdf files )
Valene Mason is Helping Make a Difference
Aboriginal Communities Confront Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic
May 3, 2002
Imagine being 19 years old and being surrounded by candy, chips, fried chicken and other delectables while working your part-time job. Sounds ideal? Not if you have type 2 diabetes and your employer is the only grocery/fast food store in town.
This was the reality facing Valene Mason of St. Theresa Point, northern Manitoba, a fly-in community of 2,800 people. "It was so tempting, but I knew I couldn't eat it because of my diabetes ... it was especially hard to go home to my two youngest sisters who always asked if I had brought them some candy. I didn't want them to get diabetes, too."
Valene Mason has joined a working group in her community which aims to prevent people from acquiring type 2 diabetes. The group is planning activities to raise awareness about how to eat well and exercise to manage type 2 diabetes, or avoid getting it.
"I want other young people to know that they can, and should, take care of themselves so that they can enjoy full lives," says Ms. Mason. "By getting our families, friends and entire communities involved, our chances of living well and avoiding complications are greater."
Ms. Mason thinks that this is possible, despite some of the challenges. For example she says, "A box of cereal that costs $6 in Winnipeg is $15 here."
Yet Ms. Mason's parents do their best to buy fruit, vegetables, meat and other foods that are not processed and which are low in sugar. Her father, Loren, has type 2 diabetes, as does her 16 year-old sister (pictured here), a 33 year-old aunt (she has been on dialysis for two years), and her 98 year-old great grandmother (also pictured here). In fact, 268 people, or nearly 10 percent of the population in St. Theresa Point, have type 2 diabetes - 29 of them are less than 10 years old.
Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic among First Nations people - three to five times the national average - and Métis and Inuit are acquiring the disease in increasing numbers. Health Canada has teamed up with Aboriginal organizations to develop and carry out the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative. Since its launch in 1999 as part of the Canadian Diabetes Strategy, the Initiative has been funding projects designed and managed by Inuit and Métis communities, and by First Nations people living on and off reserves. The projects pertain to care and treatment, as well as prevention of diabetes and promotion of healthy living.
On May 3, National Aboriginal Diabetes Awareness Day, Health Canada launched an information campaign to support community-based efforts such as those which Valene Mason is helping lead. The campaign promotes exercising and eating nutritious foods and relies on a variety of media including radio, and distribution of posters to Aboriginal communities.
News Release - May 3, 2002
New awareness campaign to help fight
diabetes among Aboriginal people
OTTAWA - The Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew, Secretary of State
(Children and Youth), today launched, on behalf of the Honourable Anne
McLellan, Minister of Health, a new awareness campaign to help prevent and
manage type 2 diabetes in the Aboriginal population. Diabetes is a serious
epidemic among First Nations people, and incidence of diabetes is increasing
among other Aboriginal groups. It is estimated that diabetes is three to five
times more prevalent among First Nations people than in the general
population. Incidences of diabetes are also increasing among Métis and Inuit.
"The Government of Canada is working with Aboriginal organizations and
communities to prevent the spread of type 2 diabetes," said Ms.
Blondin-Andrew. "We want to increase awareness that regular physical activity
and eating nutritious foods may help prevent people acquiring type 2 diabetes
and help those with it enjoy good health."
Ms. Blondin-Andrew helped launch the awareness campaign, which also
coincides with National Aboriginal Diabetes Awareness Day, at the Wabano
Centre for Aboriginal Health. The Wabano Centre is developing diabetes
awareness tools for Métis, First Nations and Inuit living in Ottawa. Among the
Centre's projects is a calendar that helps promote health and well-being for
those people affected by diabetes. The Centre has also developed educational
products that promote nutrition and healthy food choices.
"Projects such as this one represent the best way forward," added Ms.
Blondin-Andrew. "They are customized by Aboriginal peoples for their
communities ? people who are best placed to guide efforts to confront the
The Wabano Centre is also carrying out one of more than 300 diabetes
prevention projects funded by the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (ADI) across
Canada. The ADI was developed and is carried out by Health Canada and
Aboriginal organizations. Launched in 1999, the ADI is part of the Canadian
Diabetes Strategy and has been funding projects designed and managed by
Inuit and Métis communities, and by First Nations people living on and off
reserves. The projects involve care and treatment, as well as prevention of
diabetes and promotion of healthy living.
The information campaign launched today supports these efforts. It promotes
active living and the eating of nutritious foods. The campaign includes a series
of posters, fact sheets, radio broadcasts and a website, as well as sharing the
findings of the Health Canada benchmark study on Aboriginal people's
awareness of diabetes.
The benchmark study, commissioned by Health Canada and released today by
the Secretary of State, indicates that the majority of First Nations and Métis
people know that diabetes is a serious problem, and awareness among Inuit is
increasing. The majority of Aboriginal people surveyed, however, say that their
communities require further information on the disease. People need to know
what measures may prevent acquiring type 2 diabetes. If they already have the
disease, they need to know how to manage it better to avoid developing
complications, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and amputations.
This is why the national campaign is being launched to provide information on
good nutrition and the benefits of regular physical activity.
Health Canada's partners for the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative are the
Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Inuit
Tapiriiksat Kanatami, the Métis National Council, the National Aboriginal
Diabetes Association, and the Native Women's Association of Canada.
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