By: Alison Dunn Nov 02, 2010
  Editorial
Scary statistics

Three million.

That’s approximately how many Canadians have diabetes. Actually, that’s not entirely true. It’s more than three million, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Diabetes is a scary disease – and these statistics make it even scarier. No, it’s not cancer or heart disease, diseases that immediately conjure up images of death. No, it’s not a degenerative disease like multiple sclerosis or ALS, which can rob people of use of their bodies in the most tragic ways. No, it’s not Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, which can rob us of our minds. In fact, in many, many cases, diabetes can be controlled. And yet, it’s still just as scary as those other diseases.

Why the fear? I think it’s because, if left unchecked, it can cause a whole host of other diseases such as kidney disease or heart disease. It can also lead to blindness or amputation and eventually even death.

The thing that really gets me, though, is that so much can be done to prevent Type II diabetes, the most prevalent form. (If you’re not sure of the difference between the types of diabetes, be sure to check out “Type I versus Type II diabetes” this week on Health Local.)

Even the Canadian Diabetes Association agrees. Scientists and researchers have found that Type II diabetes can be prevented or delayed by eating healthy, getting plenty of exercise and controlling your weight.

Sound familiar? If it does, you’ve probably been reading a lot of articles on this website. The truth is that there isn’t any way around it – if you want to live a long and healthy life, you need to take better care of yourself. You need to eat a diet high in fresh veggies and fruit, whole grains and fibre, and lean protein. You need to get out there and move on a daily basis, whether it’s taking a walk with the kids, riding a bike, going for a jog, swimming, skiing, kayaking… the list is endless. And you need to get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and quit smoking.

It’s not just diabetics who can benefit from this advice. It’s all of us – from those of us at risk of diabetes, to those of us at risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, or some other disease.

That’s why it’s so scary that so many Canadians are now living with Type II diabetes. I’m not trying to lay blame here – there are so many factors that go into our ability to lead a healthy life that, at times, it’s virtually impossible to control the outside forces that led to us making poorer choices. Instead, it’s more important, I think, to recognize that there is still time to make a change. Even if you’re living with Type II diabetes, there are so many things you can do to start living a healthier life.

That’s why all this month on Health Local we’re going to help you do just that. November is diabetes month, and it’s time to look at all the factors that go into improving life with diabetes. From exploring different aspects of the disease to sound nutrition and fitness advice, we’re here to make sure you can make the changes you need to prevent and protect yourself from Type II diabetes.

After all, we don’t want you to be Canadian number 3,000,001 who is living with diabetes.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.