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Diabetes and urban Aboriginal populations in Canada: exploring the problem, finding solutions

Vancouver, Oct. 11, 2012 – Diabetes rates are three to five times higher among Aboriginal adults than the non-Aboriginal population. High rates of diabetes among Aboriginal people are attributed to many factors, including genetic predisposition, decreased physical activity, increased obesity and dietary changes from traditional unprocessed food to high-calorie processed foods, among others.

Today, most Aboriginal people live off reserves in Canada’s urban centres, but there is very little understanding of the impact of diabetes in urban Aboriginal communities.

At 2 p.m., today, the findings of a research project into how diabetes affects Canada’s urban Aboriginal population will be presented at the Canadian Diabetes Association professional conference. The results of this study will provide direction for developing culturally appropriate diabetes management programs.

“Diabetes should be treated as a family affair. This was the major theme that emerged from this study,” says Jane Harrison, a member of the research team and manager of Anishnawbe Health Toronto. “Diabetes affects multiple generations in one family and family members form a major support system for Aboriginal people living with diabetes.”

Key outcomes of this study include:

  • 68 per cent of participants felt that cultural teachings can help Aboriginal people live well and manage their diabetes.
  • 24 per cent had not sought help from traditional counselors or Elders, demonstrating a need for greater accessibility to traditional programs for Aboriginal people with diabetes.
  • It is important for Aboriginal people living with diabetes to have safe, welcoming places to share and learn from each other in an informal setting.

The study was conducted by Anishnawbe Health Toronto and commissioned by the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network to study the causes of higher prevalence and poorer outcomes of diabetes among Aboriginal people in the Greater Toronto Area. However, the findings are relevant for Aboriginal people in other major Canadian cities as well.

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About the Canadian Diabetes Association
The Canadian Diabetes Association is a registered charitable organization, leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure. Our professional staff and more than 20,000 volunteers provide education and services to help people in their daily fight against the disease, advocate on behalf of people with diabetes for the opportunity to achieve their highest quality of life, and break ground towards a cure. Please visit, join us on, follow us on Twitter@DiabetesAssoc, or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

For further information:

For more information and to schedule an interview with Jane Harrsion, contact:

Chris Olsen
Media Relations
Peak Communicators
[email protected]
Phone: 604-689-5559
Mobile: 604-831-6778

Linda Munro
Media Relations
Peak Communicators
[email protected]
Phone: 604-689-5559
Mobile: 778-839-9649

Natasha Netschay Davies
Blogger Relations
Peak Communicators
[email protected]
Phone: 604-689-5559
Mobile: 604-230-2733