Two recently released reports have revealed that Canada has one of the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes among 34 developed countries. Estimates suggest that more than three million Canadians struggle with this disease, and a further 5.7 million have pre-diabetes which could develop into the full-blown disorder.
Most students can manage their diabetes independently or with minimal support, and they can fully participate in school activities, including gym, field trips and celebrations. However, some, especially very young children with type 1 diabetes, may need trained personnel to help administer insulin, monitor blood sugar levels or supervise food intake and activity. Students with diabetes may also need flexibility in school rules to prevent low or high blood sugar, and, in some cases, may also need help with recognizing "lows" and "highs."
But there is an even greater danger with a simplistic understanding of diabetes that focuses exclusively on individual choice -- it diverts attention and resources from other approaches which may be more effective at addressing the diabetes epidemic. It is projected that by the year 2020, one in three Canadians will have either diabetes or pre-diabetes.
The number of people with type 2 diabetes continues to rise in Canada. It has become a major health concern, with notable societal and economic repercussions. For the past two years, my colleagues on the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health (CTFPHC) have been examining the issue of diabetes. The evidence that formed our recommendation may surprise some.