National Dialogue on Healthy Weights

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MONDAY, March 7th, 2010 ( — One of the most significant factors contributing to the epidemic rise of diabetes rates in Canada is the increase in the number of individuals who are either overweight or obese.  The Canadian Diabetes Association applauds the announcement made today by Canada’s Ministers of Health to launch a “National Dialogue on Healthy Weights” to address childhood obesity and to promote healthy weights.

“Maintaining a healthy weight is not only essential in preventing type 2 diabetes, it is also key in preventing those living with diabetes or prediabetes from developing the serious complications associated with the disease,” said Michael Cloutier, President and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association.  “Complications can include heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation.”

The link between unhealthy weights and type 2 diabetes is clear given that 80 to 90 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.  While obese persons have the highest individual risk of developing type 2 diabetes, people who are overweight will account for many more diabetes cases, simply because there are far more Canadians who are overweight (7 to 1) than are obese.

“While a focus on obesity is important, it is clearly not sufficient in addressing diabetes,” added Cloutier. “If we are to combat this diabetes epidemic, we also need to focus on the millions of Canadians who are overweight, but not obese.”

One in four Canadians will be either living with diabetes or prediabetes by 2020.  However, more than 50 per cent of type 2 diabetes diagnoses could be prevented or delayed with healthier eating and increased physical activity.  Even a moderate weight loss of 5 to 10 per cent can significantly reduce an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“To address unhealthy weights we must first identify and understand the underlying societal causes of obesity and unhealthy weights.  We additionally need to ensure all individuals whether overweight or obese receive the necessary support in dealing with the emotional and societal issues they face; obtain the educational resources to make informed decisions about their health; and gain better access to nutritious food options,” emphasized Cloutier. “That is why today’s announcement of a national dialogue on healthy weights is so important and welcomed.”

The Canadian Diabetes Association has called upon the government to introduce a Pan-Canadian Healthy Weights Strategy with a focus on setting targets to increase the number of Canadians achieving healthy weights, creating the appropriate public environment for the population to achieve healthy weights and improving access to healthy weights programs and services for high risk populations.  Achieving healthy weights within Canada will mean a significant shift in the approaches made by governments, involvement from the private sector and, most of all, widespread support received from society at large.

Diabetes in Canada
Today, more than 3 million Canadians live with diabetes of which 1 million live with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.  A further 6 million Canadians live with prediabetes and nearly 50 per cent of them will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.  Nearly 1 in 4 Canadians either has diabetes or prediabetes.  Prediabetes refers to a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.  More than 20 people are diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day.  Diabetes also threatens the economic prosperity of our nation as it currently costs our healthcare system $12.2 billion annually – a number that is projected to rise to $16.9 billion by 2020.

About the Canadian Diabetes Association
Across the country, the Canadian Diabetes Association is leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure.  Our community-based network of supporters help us provide education and services to people living with diabetes, advocate for our cause, break ground towards a cure and translate research into practical applications.  For more information, please visit or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).