Prevention & Recovery

Everything you need to know about diabetes prevention and treatment

By: Katie Drummond

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

Everything you need to know about diabetes prevention and treatment

By: Katie Drummond
This story was originally titled "November is Diabetes Month" in the November 2008 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today  and never miss an issue!

Type 2 diabetes accounts for a whopping 90 per cent of the more than two million cases of diabetes in Canada. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), this disorder can sometimes be prevented – especially with these lifestyle changes:

Get active. The PHAC recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate activity four days a week, and more if you do low intensity exercise (such as walking). But don’t stop there: more activity is better, so strive to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

Eat well. Your nutritional needs will depend on several factors, including age, body size and activity level. However, everyone is advised to choose whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean sources of protein, such as beans and lentils.

Lose excess weight. If you have a body mass index (BMI) above 27, you’re at an increased risk of many health problems, including type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a BMI between 20 and 25 is considered ideal for good health. Even moderate weight loss can help prevent diabetes.

Reduce stress. This strategy has been shown to help those with diabetes control the illness. PHAC advises Canadians to stay positive to help prevent the condition. Exercise and proper nutrition make you feel good, which motivates you to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The Canadian Diabetes Strategy was developed in 1999 by the government of Canada, with prevention being a key part of the initiative. Still, diabetes rates continue to rise, especially among youth.

Parents of teens with diabetes should be on the lookout for a potentially life-threatening condition called diabulimia, the result of intentionally taking too little insulin or skipping doses altogether to lose weight.

A study that followed 234 women with diabetes between the ages of 13 and 60 for 11 years found that diabulimic women were three times more likely to die than those who regulated their doses properly. Diabulimia can also lead to renal failure and blindness.

The researchers found that the disorder was more common among younger study participants. Warning signs include weight loss, nausea and excessive thirst.

Page 1 of 2Early detection of prediabetes in children is vital in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. But taking shortcuts might not be a good idea – new research found that the shorter screening test recommended by the Canadian Diabetes Association often misses the diagnosis in at-risk kids.

A study by doctors at McMaster University in Hamilton evaluated 172 obese children using two tests: the fasting blood glucose and the more intensive glucose stress test, a two-hour procedure that involves two separate analyses: one after fasting, and another after consuming a sugary drink. The longer test found that 25 per cent of the children met the criteria for prediabetes, while the shorter test diagnosed only eight per cent of the kids.

Prediabetes usually causes no obvious symptoms, but early detection is needed to make lifestyle changes – a better diet, regular exercise and moderate weight loss – that can help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.

Members of Team Diabetes Canada want to do more than just raise money for diabetes research. They hope to also inspire active lifestyles by strapping on sneakers and running or walking five- and 10-kilometre races, and half and full marathons across Canada and around the world. Money raised through pledges for these initiatives supports education, advocacy and research efforts by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

You don’t have to be a seasoned runner to join – 70 per cent of Team Diabetes Canada marathoners are first-timers. New members can get help getting started and staying active from training groups nationwide. That’s not the only bonus: once you commit to a fund-raising goal, your race registration, accommodation and airfare are paid for by the organization.

To register, track pledges or donate to friends and family, visit the Team Diabetes Canada website at

People with either diabetes or depression are at a greater risk of developing the other condition, according to a study at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The researchers tracked 6,814 subjects for three years. Those with symptoms of depression were 42 per cent more likely to develop diabetes, and that risk rose with depression severity. Subjects being treated for diabetes were 54 per cent more likely to suffer from depression than those without diabetes.

Researchers suspect that depression may lead to behaviours that trigger diabetes, such as overeating, smoking and inactivity. 

As for the reverse link, the stress of treating diabetes is thought to play a role in the development of depression.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Prevention & Recovery

Everything you need to know about diabetes prevention and treatment