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First Nations diabetes rates on reserves at a crisis level, says expert

First Nations diabetes
Coke can
The Manitoba town of Portage la Prairie, whose population is nearly on-quarter Aboriginal, is home to the world’s largest Coke can.

Diabetes rates on First Nations reserves have hit a critical level, says the president and CEO of the Canadian Diabetes Association.

As Diabetes Awareness Month kicked off, CDA President and CEO Rick Blickstead talked to Winnipeg radio station 680 CJOB about the increasing problem of diabetes in Manitoba, and focused on the province’s 130,000 strong First Nations population, 60 per cent of whom live on reserves.

“Our First Nations across this county are highly susceptible to diabetes,” said Blickstead. “In some cases on reserves, fifty percent of young children will have diabetes by the time they are twenty years old.”

A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal supports Blickstead’s assertions, but suggests the problem may even be worse.

Published in September, the study from the University from Calgary examined 70,631 First Nations and 2.7-million non-First Nations people aged 18 years or older and found the lifetime risk of diabetes at the age of 0 years was 75.6% among men and 87.3% among women in the First Nations group, as compared with 55.6% among men and 46.5% among women in the non-First Nations group.

“These findings coupled with the observations that younger people had a higher lifetime risk of diabetes than their older counterparts indicate the importance of early mobilization of preventive measures against the development of diabetes among First Nations people,” say the study’s authors.

But what are the reasons for the higher rates of diabetes? Dr. Jan Hux, chief science officer at the Canadian Diabetes Association says it may be explained primarily by environment, not genetics or a lack of exercise.

“For First Nations communities in rural areas, food security may be a real challenge,” Hux told CTV News. “Their local store may carry very few fresh fruits and vegetables and what’s there may be unaffordable.”

According to the CDA, 9.3 per cent, or 3.4-million Canadians had diabetes in 2015. The association says it expects these numbers will rise to five-million cases, or 12.1 per cent of the population by 2025.
Canada’s crisis mirrors a worldwide problem. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people with type 2 diabetes in growing in every country on earth, with the number of cases expected to grow from 387-million to 592-million by 2035.

The IDF says diabetes is responsible for 11 per cent of the total health spending for adults worldwide. People with diabetes are more than twenty times as likely as the general population to be hospitalized for a non-traumatic lower limb amputation and three times as likely to be hospitalized with cardiovascular disease.

“With a staggering one in three Canadians already living with diabetes or prediabetes, including an estimated 1.5 million with undiagnosed diabetes, we must take action now to stop the growth and impact of this disease,” says Blickstead. “Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day are times to shine a spotlight on diabetes, educate Canadians about the disease, and help all of us find out our level of risk for type 2 diabetes so we can take action.”

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Nick Waddell
Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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Comment

  1. Hmmmn giant Coke can and no mention of processed foods, just a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. It seems aboriginals have a greater susceptibility to sugars and alcohol, than the white folk. We make money off their susceptibilities and pay lip service to helping them.

  2. In July of 2016, it was discovered that I got type 2 diabetes, By the end of the July month. I was given a prescription for the Metformin, I stated with the ADA diet and followed it completely for several weeks but was unable to get my blood sugar below 140, Without results whatever I did, I really panicked and called my doctor. His response?? Deal with it yourself, I started to feel that something wasn’t right and do my own research, Then I found Lisa’s great blog (google ” HOW I HELPED MYSELF FROM THE DIABETES ” ) .. I read it from cover to cover and I started with the diet and by the next morning. my blood sugar was 100, Since then, I get a fasting reading between the mid 70s and 80s, My doctor was very surprised at the results that. the next week. he took me off the Metformin drug, I lost 35 pounds in my two month and lost more than 8 inches off my own waist as well as I can exercise twice per day and still having a lot of energy.The truth is that we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods。

  3. Diabetes in First Nations is caused by a complete change in food and lifestyle. No trouble till european colonization and globalization. What we eat nowadays is not at all what we ate for the past 20 thousand years and beyond. Our bodies are not designed for what passes for food nowadays: genetically-modified, saturated in roundup and chemical preservatives, irradiated, vaccinated.
    …and oh yeah, lose the colonial language RE: ““Our First Nations”?! “Our”?! We don’t belong to you.

  4. Awesome expert. In July of 2016. it was discovered that I got type 2 diabetes, By the end of the July month. I was given a prescription for the Metformin, I stated with the ADA diet and followed it completely for several weeks but was unable to get my blood sugar below 140, Without results to how for my hard work. I really panicked and called my doctor. His response?? Deal with it yourself, I started to feel that something wasn’t right and do my own research, Then I found Lisa’s great blog (google ” HOW I HELPED MYSELF FROM THE DIABETES ” ) .. I read it from cover to cover and I started with the diet and by the next morning. my blood sugar was 100, Since then. I get a fasting reading between the mid 70s and 80s, My doctor was very surprised at the results that. the next week. he took me off the Metformin drug, I lost 30 pounds in my first month and lost more than 6 inches off my waist and I’m able to work out twice a day while still having lots of energy. The truth is that we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods..

  5. We can reverse diabetes through exercise and healthy eating. I actually read an article about diabetes curing diet and it seemed like the person had great success so I gave it a try. I couldn’t have been more excited about the results, as I am now 50 pounds lighter than when I first started using it.
    The article was very helpful to me — if you want to check it out yourself you can read it here:
    curediabetespro*gq
    (replace * with a dot, because I can’t post links here)

  6. It used to be painted as a beer can. At least now they aren’t drunk and diabetic. The picture they used for this article is insinuating that they need to drink coke now because of this landmark. Really?? Everything you put in your mouth is a choice you make and no one else’s.

  7. When will you get tired of playing the victim? You are responsible for your own health, eat what makes you healthy, if food is terrible on the reserve, move. You are right that no one owns you, so why should anyone care more for your health than you do. You can not fix other people only yourself, it is not colonization or globalization it is the person in the mirror that makes you a victim.

  8. This coincides with the shortage of drugs all across Canada that was announced a few years ago by Rona Ambrose who was at the time the Federal Health Minister:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/drug-makers-to-be-required-to-post-info-on-shortages-1.2951095
    It suffices to say that this crisis is worsened by the fact that Doctors are not prescribing or increasing the dosage of insulin when necessary, or, at least this is the case in southern Ontario. In addition these Doctors of ours are taking us off and decreasing the dosage of prescribed drugs whenever they see fit. Quite frankly, they are debilitating us all and turning us into total retards!
    Unfortunately, southern Ontario’s medical system is staffed by refugee doctors who don’t know their heads from their asses, and, as they say in southern Ontario these days, “Everyone is racist these days!” So are the refugee doctors when dealing with white, Christian Canadians. We are the bottom of the barrel all thanks to our Government who has given these scum of the earth illegals/refugee Neanderthals authority over all the Canadian born.
    I have been inflicted with stomach problems for 4 years and I’m still without insulin. One Doctor diagnosed H-Pylori which was downgraded to IBS by another Doctor and still other Doctors tell me I just have gas but no medication for either problem is prescribed to me.
    I later went to a Dermatologist to treat planters warts on my feet who looked at my feet and told me I had diabetes. After she sent me for blood tests she decided I would be fine. However, I am experiencing severe bloating, severe stomach pain and burning in my stomach, always. I have the constipation under control with castor oil monthly and glycerin suppositories everyday. I take 7 Tylenol Xtra Strength everyday to help control the pain, which is better than nothing but it doesn’t quite do the job.

  9. @the_unsilent_majority – Saying no
    trouble till European colonization and globalization would be a false
    statement because nobody knows the diabetes statistics before
    colonization. The people living in North America before colonization may
    have very well had problems with diabetes for thousands of years. As a
    final note stop trying to blame whitey for all your problems. Last time I
    checked nobody is forcing you or any other non-white North American
    resident to eat what you are shoving down your throats.

  10. Exactly, sick and tired of being blamed for all their problems. Hell we give most of the people on reserves a free ride and send billions every year to improve services and housing but of course the vast majority of that money goes right into their leaders offshore bank accounts and they laugh while their people live in terrible conditions but hey never mind the corruption just blame whites

  11. Obesity is also linked to having a high ACE score (The ACE Study done in the 1990s at UCLA). It found that obesity was linked to trauma. Consider the Residential Schools experience and 60’s Scoop trauma and Indian Act trauma and racism in this country. It seems incredible that the Chief Science Officer at the Canadian Diabetes Association does not seem to know that trauma is highly correlated with obesity, disease and disability.

  12. Except that the Fed Gov’t ordered First Nations people to live on the FN Reserves. It sounds like you have little knowledge of this history. Have you hear of The Pass System under the Indian Act? FN peoples were banned from leaving the Reserves unless they got written permission of the Indian Officers. SMH. Obviously that creates a multi-gen ‘learned helplessness’ of leaving the Reserve, as you suggest, Robin Oxford. PS. Your racism is showing.

  13. If everyone is getting diabetes what is the source ? What is weakening our pancreas .There is obviously a source that needs to be removed from our diets. Someone is keeping quiet in the name of medi dollars.

  14. I went to school on a reserve. I grew up beside a reserve, and many of my friends were native growing up. They had no trouble leaving the reserve, there are no gates. When you pull the racism card it is your ignorance , perhaps the look in the mirror comment hits a little close to home.

  15. Every group has been subjugated at some point. My own ancestors were successively conquered by Scandanavians, Romans, Germans, and French, among others. The Jews have been threatened with genocide — a real one — since time immemorial.
    The difference is that some groups get themselves together and persevere. Others don’t. Most cultures have been lost to history. Facts are difficult things.

  16. First Nations people aren’t all children, I don’t understand why they and the government pushes this narrative.
    We know what causes diabetes and this piece of awful Western education is available to everyone in Canada. If you don’t want diabetes, eat properly and stay active.
    You can’t complain about colonialism from your iPhone while eating KFC five times a day, hunting with your rifle on your ATV, living in your dry walled Western home, using fossil fuels, etc.
    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. No one is forcing First Nations to eat poorly and be inactive, you are free to poach all the wildlife you want and can even do so without a truck or ATV.

  17. I don’t think you can find a single person who doesn’t have ancestors that were subjected to atrocities or oppression. My ancestors were Métis, Irish, and Russian, all peoples who have suffered greatly.
    Suffering doesn’t create learned helplessness, a sense of entitlement and expectation of government welfare does. There is no pride in this.

  18. They are free to not purchase processed foods or alcohol, just like everyone else.
    If they really want to “fight colonialism”, they should do so by eschewing Western luxuries and foods and respecting their bodies, their families, and their communities. Not fighting for more handouts. They, and the people in Toronto and Ottawa, seem to still buy into the Noble Savage archetype and think money is going to solve this.

  19. Oh so much to comment about in this article.
    First, first nation folks can hunt and fish without limits, obviously the pepsi and doritos are taking precedence over the bison and berries
    .
    Second, I’m sure the chiefs eat really well, hey, stealing money from the tribe has its perks.
    The problem is the first nations are self managing themselves horribly. My solution, stop all government funding to the department of indian affairs.
    Maybe one day we’ll see a canadian version of Trump clean up this mess.

  20. Could you get into the 21 century. All the information about food is out there. There is no doubt the diabetes is caused by their pathetic diet. You have to have someone cook real food and not have their family live on KFC and fast food. That requires a family UNIT which is seriously lacking in the Native community. As usual, you blame some other group rather than the apathy of the native community. Before you say it is lack of access to good food or the expense I will argue that boxed pizza, KFC, and fast food are far more expensive than “real” food. As for the 20 thousand years, the vast majority of Canadians are immigrants at some time and had to adapt their diet and they are not as unhealthy native population. Lousy food, alcohol, and a serious drug problem is the issue and there is no one to blame but the natives themselves.

  21. No one is forcing them to stay on the reserve. Once again that was YEARS ago. Come into the 21 century.

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