Canada is not perceived as a hotbed of diabetes, but amongst the native aboriginal population incidences are alarming. Before the Second World War, diabetes was incredibly rare amongst the aboriginal population, however today the concentration of diabetics is estimated to be as much as five times the national average. Conferences in Canada are looking for ways in which to stem a phenomenon which has been described as everything from a ‘growing tide’ to a ‘pandemic.’
One conference, in Winnipeg, is searching for ethnically-sensitive ideas. The NADA (National Aboriginal Diabetes Association) has estimated that places such as Manitoba might see cases of diabetes triple in the next twenty year period. Figures indicate that up to 20 per cent of Manitoba’s First Nations population will develop the disease.
Delegates at the conference have pointed to poor diet, a severe lack of exercise, high levels of stress and genetic precondition as contributory factors to the problem. In the North of the regio, access to fresh food is also seen as a problem. Fresh produce is a must for communities who are currently relying on foods high in saturated fat, high in sugars and salts and laden with preservatives.
Experts at the conference said that the involvement and participation of the people was essential in fighting the problem.

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