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Around the world, the number of people with diabetes is growing. In Canada, over two million people are living with diabetes and over 6 million people have a condition called pre-diabetes. If left untreated, this can turn into type 2 diabetes, which can lead to serious health problems such as loss of sight, as well as heart and kidney disease.
Diabetes affects the body’s ability to use the energy it gets from food. After eating a meal, the body changes foods such as milk, fruit and grain products into glucose, a type of sugar. The sugar then travels into blood where it waits for insulin (a hormone) to help move it out of the blood and into cells where it can be used as energy. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes. This causes high levels of sugar in the blood, which can lead to serious health issues over time.
The good news is, type 2 diabetes can be prevented. Take the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire to find out if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. If you have any risk factors contact your health care provider to set up an appointment for more information.
Knowing your risk and taking action are the first steps in preventing type 2 diabetes. Read on to find out how you can lower your risk.
Making healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. However, type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes cannot be prevented.
Find out if you are at risk of having type 2 diabetes and learn ways to decrease your risk by taking the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire now. The questionnaire asks important questions about risk factors such as your age and family history of diabetes.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes. They can include:
- being thirsty more than usual
- having to pee a lot
- weight gain or loss
- feeling tired often or having no energy
- blurred vision
- cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
- tingling or numbness in hands or feet
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important you contact your health care provider to set up an appointment right away.
In some cases, a person can have diabetes without any signs or symptoms.
About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. You are at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
- are 40 years of age or older
- have someone in your family with type 2 diabetes (e.g. parent, brother, sister or grandparent)
- are overweight (especially around your belly)
- are a member of a high-risk group
- Indigenous (e.g. First Nations, Inuit, Métis)
- Black (e.g. African, Caribbean)
- East Asian (e.g. China, Vietnam, Philippines, Korea)
- South Asian (e.g. Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)
- Latin American (e.g. Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Mexico)
- have a history of gestational diabetes or pre-diabetes
- have heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
- have health complications related to diabetes such as eye, nerve or kidney problems
You can prevent or reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes with small lifestyle changes. Being physically active, eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and being smoke-free are important steps you can take to help you live a healthy life and prevent disease.
Contact Toronto Public Health, or your local hospital or community health centre to find out about diabetes prevention programs and services available in your community.
What you can do to lower your risk
Be physically active
- Being active does not have to take a lot of time and effort. Learn how to make physical activity a part of your everyday life.
- Eating well refers to the types of foods you eat on a regular basis.
- During meals and snacks try to make half your plate vegetables and fruit. Learn more about eating well everyday.
Maintain a healthy weight
- Maintaining a healthy weight is a step towards better overall health and includes being physically active and eating well.
- Did you know that people who smoke or use tobacco are more likely to get type 2 diabetes? Learn how to live tobacco-free.
- Managing your stress in positive ways helps to reduce your risk of diabetes and improves your mental health.
- Find out what works for you. Try spending time with friends, deep breathing, laughing, exercising or colouring.
Diabetes Prevention Programs
We offer a variety of community programs that focus on promoting healthy lifestyle changes to prevent type 2 diabetes. Our workshops and programs focus on diabetes risk assessment, food skills & nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation and stress management. For more information on programs and services related to diabetes prevention, please contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600.
Peer Leadership Program for the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes
The Diabetes Prevention Peer Leadership Program Application for 2017 – 2018 is now closed. Please check back for future opportunities.
This video highlights the positive impact that the Diabetes Prevention Peer Leadership Program is having on program participants.