January 17, 2019

BY CHRISTEL ALLISON

It’s November, which means it’s Diabetes Awareness Month.

World Diabetes Day is celebrated every year on Nov. 14. The date was chosen because it marks the birthday of Canadian Sir Frederick G. Banting, who, along with Charles Best, is credited with the discovery of insulin in 1921.

Best also helped create the Diabetes Association of Ontario in the 1940s, which became the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) in 1953.

The CDA is a registered charity that helps the more than 10 million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, both diagnosed or undiagnosed by helping them assess their risk factors and get in touch with a doctor. The charity strives to lead the fight against diabetes by helping those affected by diabetes live healthy lives, preventing the onset and consequences of diabetes and discovering a cure.

The CDA is not funded by the government. The organization partners with sponsors like Sun Life Financial, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Shoppers Drug Mart, Novo Nordisk Canada and LifeScan in the fight against diabetes.

“As a non-profit organization, we count on individuals and other organizations,” said Heidi Fraser, public programs and services co-ordinator in the CDA Kitchener office. “Our organization would not exist without them.”

This year, these sponsors are encouraging people to take two minutes to complete the CANRISK type 2 diabetes online risk test and take charge of their health. Results from the test will push people to examine their lifestyle choices, get active and even monitor their weight.

“In recognition of Diabetes Awareness Month, we’re focusing on encouraging Canadians to take the type 2 diabetes test online,” said CDA communications manager Harriet Lee. “It’s important that people are aware of the risk factors so people of moderate or high risk can see a doctor, take action and see what they can do to reduce the possibility of having diabetes. People of low risk need to be informed enough to take the test every year because the results may vary.”

The relevance of this online risk test can’t be stressed enough because 20 Canadians are diagnosed with diabetes every hour of every day.

“It’s not diagnostic,” said Fraser in regards to the CANRISK test. “The idea of it is to see what their level of risk is in terms of their development of type 2 diabetes.”
Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in Canada. It is the cause of 30 per cent of strokes, 40 per cent of heart attacks, 50 per cent of kidney failure requiring dialysis, 70 per cent of all non-traumatic limb amputations, vision loss and blindness.

Having diabetes can shorten one’s lifespan. However, CDA Kitchener’s Heidi Fraser believes “it’s extremely important” that people are aware of the risk factors, get diagnosed and recognize that they might be living with this for the rest of their lives.”

The longer a person goes without being diagnosed, the worse the complications get. People can live really long and healthy lives when they are aware but there’s no going back when the complications come.

The CDA offers programs and services for all age groups. Some of these include camp programs for children in every province, webinars, lunch and learn events in workplaces and communities, fundraisers and expos.

This year, on Nov. 15, they will be hosting a Diabetes & You; Take Charge Expo in Kitchener. It’s free and open to people living with type 1, type 2 and pre-diabetes. Even if you just live with or love someone who has diabetes, you will stand to benefit from this expo.

For general information, more information on the expo or how to get involved, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

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