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Taking Action to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

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Taking Action to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Ontario is investing almost $10 million to help local communities and health professionals across the province prevent Type 2 diabetes.  

The funds will support Public Health Units, Community Health Centres and Family Health Teams to deliver local initiatives focused on raising awareness and promoting healthy lifestyle changes among those who are at a higher risk for the disease. 

What is Diabetes?

An estimated 1.4 million people in Ontario are living with diabetes.  By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 1.9 million.

Approximately 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes that is usually diagnosed in adulthood. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. Insulin is a hormone that helps to control the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness and kidney disease. It is also a significant cause of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, painful peripheral neuropathy, and lower-limb amputations.

Some of the risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Age 40 years or older
  • Overweight
  • Of Aboriginal, Hispanic/Latin American, Asian, South Asian or African descent
  • High blood pressure
  • A relative with Type 2 diabetes (e.g. parent, sister or brother)
  • History or prediabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Abdominal obesity

Experts have reported that healthy-eating, weight control and physical activity may prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes in certain high-risk individuals. 

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed during childhood or adolescence and occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin at all. There is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.   

Diabetes Prevention Program

Ontario is investing $7.9 million over three years to deliver the Diabetes Prevention Program. The program supports local community-based prevention initiatives that raise awareness and prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes among at-risk populations.

The program will support local community projects such as:

  • Behaviour programs targeting modifiable risk factors (such as obesity and hypertension) for Type 2 diabetes, including physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. These risk factors may be modified through increased physical activity, consumption of healthy food and learning about healthy meal preparation.
  • Training programs for health professionals and educators to implement culturally specific behavior modification programs for at risk communities. 
  • Programs which screen for Type 2 diabetes risk factors. Individuals identified as high-risk are referred to primary care providers for further diagnosis and treatment.
  • Local awareness campaigns to raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes and associated risk factors and to direct people to local services and programs.

Primary Care Diabetes Prevention Program

The Primary Care Diabetes Prevention Program is a lifestyle intervention program focused on preventing or delaying Type 2 diabetes in adults who are at high-risk for developing the disease.  The government will provide up to $1 million during the next two years to continue this pilot program.

Since the program was initiated in 2011, approximately 1,800 adults at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes have enrolled.  This pilot program is delivered by six Family Health Teams.

The program is designed to equip participants with the skills and knowledge necessary to maintain healthy eating and physical activity over the long-term. The primary objective of this program is to help people at high-risk to reduce bodyweight, engage in moderate physical exercise and reduce Type 2 diabetes risk factors. Participants are led through a comprehensive curriculum focused on goal setting, motivation and building lifestyle self-management skills.

Diabetes Early Detection Program

The Diabetes Early Detection Program, offered through the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, provides screening, education, early detection and referral services in the languages of at-risk local ethnic populations. The government will provide annual funding for the program, starting with more than $900,000 in 2013-2014. 

The program supports diabetes screening and prevention initiatives for three health care organizations serving local ethnic groups, benefitting Aboriginal, South/Southeast/East Asian, Latin/Central/South American and East African/Caribbean populations.

The program supports a team-based approach in each organization that may include two or more of the following positions: registered nurses, registered dieticians, outreach workers and health promoters.  Services are culturally relevant, language-specific and community-driven.  

Screening events are provided at locations where target populations meet regularly, which may include places of worship, settlement or newcomer centres, public schools and community centres. 

Taking Action on Diabetes

These programs build on a number of initiatives Ontario is already undertaking to prevent diabetes, including: 

  • Making Ontario the first province to fully fund insulin pumps for children and youth with Type 1 diabetes. To date, the program has provided approximately 13,000 Ontarians with funding for the purchase of insulin pumps and related supplies.
  • Introducing the Ontario Diabetes Strategy in 2008 to improve health outcomes for people living with diabetes in Ontario.
  • Establishing diabetes Regional Coordination Centres in each of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks to coordinate diabetes services and foster adoption of clinical best practices in diabetes management. 
  • Providing diabetes self-management skills training to over 8,000 individuals and over 7,250 health care providers.
  • Establishing six Centres for Complex Diabetes Care to provide a one-stop shop for specialized, patient-centered care and treatment for people with diabetes who have multiple medical conditions and complex health needs.  
  • Supporting EatRight Ontario, operated by the Dietitians of Canada, which offers free email and toll-free telephone access to registered dietitians who can provide advice on nutrition and healthy eating. They offer online tools such as meal planners and resources to support healthy eating. EatRight Ontario also provides specific information on diabetes prevention and targets cultural groups that are at higher risk of developing diabetes with culturally tailored tools to promote healthy eating choices.
  • Providing funding for Aboriginal Health Access Centres that offer culturally appropriate health promotion and chronic disease prevention initiatives that include diabetes prevention, screening and referral. The programs and services are provided to Aboriginal communities including First Nations (on and off reserve), Métis and Inuit populations.

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