This year’s Federated Health Charities campaign runs from April 3, 2023, to June 30, 2023. During the campaign, we are highlighting how each of our 21 charities works to improve the health and well-being of people across our province.
The 19th charity in our spotlight is Diabetes Canada. Diabetes is a disease where your body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone (produced in the pancreas) that helps your body regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream. Over time, too much glucose(also referred to as “blood sugar”) in the bloodstream can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
Popular media often depicts diabetes and people with diabetes in an inaccurate and harmful light – diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar and people don’t “give themselves” diabetes. There are several different reasons why someone may develop diabetes, including their genes, family history, ethnic background, and environmental factors. It also depends on the type of diabetes you have.
There are three types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes affects roughly 10% of people with diabetes, and generally develops in childhood or adolescence, but can also develop in adulthood. People with type 1 need to inject insulin or use an insulin pump to ensure their bodies have the right amount of insulin. Type 2 diabetes develops when your body cannot make enough insulin or does not properly use the insulin that it is producing to regulate your blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is caused by several factors including obesity, ethnic background, a family history of type 2 diabetes and other environmental factors, and accounts for roughly 90% of diabetes cases in Canada.
The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which can occur during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. In these cases, the pregnant person’s body cannot produce enough insulin to manage the demands of a growing baby and changing hormone levels. Most people who develop gestational diabetes did not have diabetes before they got pregnant. In most cases, gestational diabetes can be controlled by managing diet and activity levels, and the diabetes will go away after the baby is born. However, people who develop gestational diabetes should be aware that they have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
One-in-three Canadians, including nearly 4 million Ontarians, are living with diabetes or prediabetes, and that figure grows with another diagnosis every three minutes. People with diabetes account for 30% of strokes, 40% of heart attacks, 50% of dialysis starts for kidney failure, and 70% of amputations in Canada – more than $50 million a day is spent on healthcare to treat diabetes and related complications across Canada.
“I know that if I do forget to manage my diabetes, there are really grave consequences, and that makes me stress and also makes me scared,” says Oria. Oria was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 10. “I think the biggest challenge of type 1 diabetes is that it never leaves your mind. No matter what you’re doing, where you’re going, it’s always there at the back of your head, saying, take care of me, give me attention.”
Diabetes Canada is committed to ending the diabetes epidemic by preventing type 2 diabetes, delivering better care and improving the quality of life for people with diabetes, and by funding research to find a cure. Diabetes Canada also actively advocates on behalf of people with diabetes to end the discrimination, stigma and unfair treatment they face, as well as lobbying government for help to address Canada’s diabetes epidemic.
Across Canada and Ontario, Diabetes Canada programs help people with diabetes understand, manage and fight complications from the disease. For example, last year alone, Diabetes Canada specialists helped more than 23,000 Canadians who called their information helpline looking for information or support dealing with diabetes. More than 20,000 children with diabetes have attended D-Camps, enjoying an authentic camp experience that combines fun activities, friendship, and education on how to manage their diabetes with help from on-site medical professionals. The Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada provides front-line healthcare professionals with the most comprehensive information on the best practices to care for people with diabetes. And since the establishment of the Charles H. Best Research Fund in 1975, Diabetes Canada has invested more than $50 million in research to improve diabetes treatments and find a cure.
Diabetes Canada was one of the first charities to join us when Federated Health Charities was founded in 1983. For the last 40 years. Diabetes Canada and Federated Health Charities have worked together to help those affected by diabetes live healthy lives and prevent the onset and consequences of diabetes.
“It’s really important for organizations like [Diabetes Canada] to exist,” Oria says. “To the donors that have helped this charity, I’d like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I personally have been affected by donations that have been given to Diabetes Canada, and at D-camps, I was provided with a loving community and role models when I felt isolated and small.”
To learn more about Diabetes Canada, please visit the Diabetes Canada.
To make a payroll pledge or donation to support the Kidney Foundation and Federated Health Charities, please visit Federated Health Charities.