Diabetes A Heavy Burden On Economy, Report Says

“Those two factors (diet and lifestyle) we see as critical to saving dollars within the health-care

system and reducing the impact diabetes has on Canadians.”


Rising numbers of Canadians annually diagnosed with diabetes will cost the economy as much as $17 billion by 2020, according to a new report released by the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA).

The number of persons diagnosed with diabetes in Canada doubled between 2000 and 2010, from 1.3 million to 2.5 million, and at current rates, another 1.2 million are expected to be diagnosed over the next decade.

Already nearly one in four Canadians either has diabetes or pre-diabetes and more than 20 are diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day.

The CDA report calls the prevalence of the disease not only a personal crisis for those living it, but a financial burden for the health-care system.

“For the first time, Canada has a Diabetes Cost Model specifically based on Canadian data to estimate both the current and future costs of diabetes,” said Ellen Malcolmson, president and CEO of the Canadian Diabetes Association.

The CDA is calling on the federal government to take action, both in prevention and care strategies. Funding for the Canadian Diabetes Strategy and the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative will expire in 2010.

Rising rates of obesity, sedentary lifestyles, an aging population, and changes in the ethnic mix of newcomers to Canada are contributing to the increase, the report says.

Ninety per cent of diabetes cases are Type 2, which usually develops in adulthood, although increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are now being diagnosed. Higher-risk population groups in Canada include those whose countries of origin are Asian, south Asian, Hispanic as well as Canada’s Aboriginal populations.

The CDA says more than half of Type 2 cases of diabetes could be either delayed or prevented altogether with more attention paid to a healthier diet and a more active lifestyle.

“Those two factors we see as critical to saving dollars within the health-care system and reducing the impact diabetes has on Canadians,” said Jeremy Brace, national media manager for the CDA.

The CDA’s nutrition guidelines recommend eating more foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals, brown rice, vegetables and fruits, and lentils, dried beans and peas. Human research studies funded by the Canadian pulse industry have shown eating pulses, for example, can improve risk factors related to diabetes such as lowering cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure in overweight individuals.

Canada’s pending “economic tsunami” in treating diabetes is a problem shared around the world. Reports in October during a Montreal meeting of the 20th World Diabetes Congress estimate 285 million persons around the world now live with diabetes, a figure expected to reach nearly 440 million by 2030 if the current trend is not addressed.

The stark news adds to the shared frustration within the diabetes community that not enough is being done to address the diabetes threat, an International Diabetes Federation (IDF) press release stated. [email protected]

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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