Tackling Type 2 diabetes
Recreational program may help prevent chronic condition
BY LIZ KATYNSKI
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012
Studying how physical activity can be used
to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes is near
and dear to Dr. Jon McGavock's heart.
In fact, his research focuses on the
cardiovascular complications in youth that
are associated with Type 2 diabetes. His work
in this area has taken him to the Garden Hill
First Nation. Located in northeast Manitoba,
Garden Hill has a Type 2 diabetes rate that's
400 to 500 times higher than the general
A few years ago, McGavock and key
stakeholders from Garden Hill set out
to determine whether a peer mentoring
program called Rec and Read could help
reduce that rate by encouraging young
people to eat healthier and become more
physically active, two factors associated with
reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
"Rec and Read encourages people to adopt
a healthier lifestyle, get active and improve
their self-esteem so they can become role
models for others in their community,"
says McGavock, an associate professor of
Pediatrics and Child Health at the University
of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine, and coleader
of Diabetes Research Envisioned and
Accomplished in Manitoba at the Manitoba
Institute for Child Health.
Rec and Read was developed by Dr. Joannie
Halas, Associate Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology
and Recreation Management at the U of M,
and McGavock worked with her to expand the
model for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.
In the Garden Hill version, local high
school students were hired to deliver a
program of healthy snacks, physical activities
and bonding within a traditional medicine
wheel concept to about 80 Grade 4 students
in 2010/11 and 2011/12. Although it's too
early to tell whether it can help reduce
Type 2 diabetes rates, the program has
had a positive effect. Teen mentors from
Garden Hill recently shared their take on the
program at a special presentation attended
by 75 members of the Faculty of Medicine.
Many felt inspired by their presentations,
says McGavock. "It motivated us to see a lot
of hope for the future, for people facing an
overwhelming burden of chronic disease."
Back to "Research for better health"
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Read the November / December 2012 issue of Wave