Diabetes and Canada: Don’t Forget the Youth!

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are primary risk factors for obtaining a chronic disease. While the following are quite typical to hear, we must be reminded of them: tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, raised blood pressure (or hypertension), physical inactivity, raised cholesterol, overweight/obesity, an unhealthy diet, and raised blood glucose.  The Canadian Best Practices Portal has on their news line a report about diabetes in Canada from the Public Health Agency and mentions some preventative solutions.

According to the Public Health Agency report, there are several factors previously mentioned here that can promulgate the development of type 2 diabetes: namely, obesity, physical inactivity, the risk of an unhealthy diet (less than five servings of vegetables and fruit a day), and smoking. Most of these factors attribute to nearly all of the risks — where others include socio-demographic, environmental, or genetic factors.

With the risk factors in mind, it is notable to say nowadays that a highly at-risk population for obtaining type 2 diabetes is young people — with rates of physical inactivity and consumption of high-fat foods being on the rise. Interventions suggested by the Public Health Agency thus include increasing the time for physical activity in school curricula, instituting educational campaigns (which include the understanding of food labels and to teach youth how to cook nutritious, low-fat foods), providing access to community recreational facilities, networking for improving nutrition and physical activity, providing training to staff and volunteers for the skills required to promote population health, and mandating a local health service (i.e. a diabetes education center) . Notably, they stress a “holistic approach” that encompasses social, economic, environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors associated with type 2 diabetes.

“Type 1 diabetes remains the main form of the disease in this population [children and youth], but type 2 diabetes, historically viewed as an adult disease, has been on the rise globally in children and youth for the last decades.”

Why is the health of the young so important when we should be focusing on the rapid aging rate?

This is a notable question to consider, and my answer is that with the continuous drain of services for elderly due to the widespread aging process, fewer and fewer staff will be able to take care of them. What indeed could we do if the next generations of our world could not even take care of the old because they are not healthy themselves? It is an insight that we all must realize — that although there still remains a lack of focus on the rising aging population, we most certainly shouldn’t turn our heads away from the young.

Public Health Agency of Canada. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/index-eng.php

Canadian Best Practices Portal. http://cbpp-pcpe.phac-aspc.gc.ca/

Diabetes in Canada (PHA). http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/publications/diabetes-diabete/facts-figures-faits-chiffres-2011/index-eng.php

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About Adrian Levitsky

Adrian is a Research Technician and Doctoral Student at Karolinska Institutet's ClinTRID department for Inflammatory (Autoimmune) Disease research. He is a blogger for the Silverevolution initiative by ACCESS Health International. He defended his Masters thesis in Global Health at Karolinska and worked together with the CAMbrella project's Swedish team (http://www.cambrella.eu/home.php) in analyzing global key stakeholders of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Traditional Medicine (TM). He has an avid interest in research. Particularly, he wishes to research CAM/TM and promulgate an evidence base for the potential effectiveness of integrative care -- as this communication still is lacking globally. Adrian has a background starting as a pilot at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which later evolved to studying Human Factors Psychology with a drive to understand how man and machine work together. This field often focuses heavily on research and involves testing available theories or finding new solutions to prevent work-related injuries, reduce stress, and emphasize usability/ergonomics. Teaching English in South Korea made him realize the need for innovation and imagination for all school curricula in order to solve today’s dilemmas.

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