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New website aims to help Manitobans learn more about diabetes

New website aims to help Manitobans learn more about diabetes
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Diabetes by the numbers

BY ALANA COLE
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, Summer 2009

Manitobans who want to reduce their risk of developing one of the province's most common chronic diseases now have a new source of information.

The province has created a new diabetes information website, part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness about the condition. Officially launched in May, the website features background material about the illness, a risk assessment questionnaire, and tips to reduce your chances of developing the disease.

About 76,600 Manitobans live with diabetes, with approximately 96 per cent of those individuals living with Type 2 diabetes, according to Diabetes Trends and Gender Differences: A Summary of Diabetes Surveillance in Manitoba. The disease is one of the leading causes of death in Manitoba, and is linked to many other complications such as blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

The Canadian Diabetes Association estimates that as many as 17 Manitobans are diagnosed every day with diabetes. You may be at higher risk for the disease if you:

  • Are over the age of 40;
  • Have a family history of the disease;
  • Have unhealthy eating habits;
  • Are physically inactive;
  • Are of First Nations, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian, or African descent.

The campaign and website drew praise from national diabetes advocacy groups, as well as some Manitobans who have been diagnosed with the condition.

"Even if it helps just one person," it will be worth it, says Ian Ross, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes just last year at age 40.

Ross spoke about his experience with the chronic illness at the launch of the awareness campaign in May. He says he has family members on both his mother's and father's side who live with Type 2 diabetes. His younger brother was also diagnosed with the disease. "You go along and think, 'It's not going to happen to me, it's going to hit somebody else,'" says Ross.

Although he wasn't able to avoid the onset of Type 2 diabetes, Ross says he has made changes to his diet and is trying to incorporate more physical activity into his daily routine to better manage his condition.

Many of the prevention tips on the website would have been helpful to Ross. In addition to explaining what individuals can do to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, it also gives tips on how one can make changes and live a healthier life.

But that's not all.

The website also includes a two-minute assessment test to help individuals find out whether they are at risk for developing the disease. Once they have their answer, they are then given cues on what to do next to best maintain their health.

Greg Unger, Regional Director of the Canadian Diabetes Association, thinks the two-minute assessment test found on the website is informative and useful.

"Even if you go there and find out you have no risk factors, it's all about knowledge," says Unger.

The province invested $250,000 into the awareness campaign, which includes the website and a series of television commercials that ran throughout June.

The province also announced it will work to improve access to diabetes care in Easterville, Grand Rapids and Moose Lake with a pilot foot-care image-conferencing program that will connect patients with doctors in Winnipeg. Earlier this year, the province announced that it will spend $500,000 to expand the Youville Centre, which is a major resource centre for people with diabetes.

To visit the website, go to manitobahealthyliving.ca.

Alana Cole is a Winnipeg writer

Wave

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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