Estimated 10 per cent of Cobourg residents are diabetic, says official

First published: April 12, 2005

About one in 10 people in Cobourg have diabetes and a majority of those people could have prevented it easily, says a Canadian Diabetes Association spokesperson Tuesday night.

Between six per cent and 10 per cent of the population in any given area are diabetic, adding that would mean about 1,750 people in Cobourg and about 1,400 in Port Hope, said Dorothy MacDonald, the regional services co-coordinator for the Central East Ontario of the diabetes association in an interview.
“Because there is an older population in Cobourg, it would tend to be higher,” she said.

There are currently about three million people with diabetes. It will grow by about two per cent by 2025, an estimated 600,000 people or the equivalent of the population of Edmonton, said Dr. Michael Bayer, a Cobourg physician. About 90 per cent of those will have type 2 diabetes, the most preventable form of the disease, caused by a number of factors, including overweight, poor diet and lack of exercise. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas no longer functions and cannot be prevented.

These statistics were discussed as part of a presentation on diabetes and heart disease held in the Lion’s Centre on Elgin Street to a crowd of 130 people.

The effects of diabetes is quite profound, Dr. Bayer said, adding it costs the health care system about $5 billion a year to treat patients with the disease. There are also a number of other factors that contribute to the high costs, including complications that lead to greater risks for heart attacks, kidney disease, liver disease and amputations.

For diabetics, this means they must monitor things like high blood pressure, hypertension, obesity and smoking, if they wish to avoid further serious problems. This means a diabetic who fails to properly address their condition over a 15-year period has about a 50 per cent chance of a heart attack, Dr. Bayer said.

The good news is small changes make big difference, he added. Through proper diet and exercise, along with controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, many of these risk factors drop significantly.

Studies have found that a good diet including fresh fruit and vegetables, along with while grains and low fat, such as the Canadian Health Food Guide recommends, patients can see a 76 per cent reduction in risk. Dr. Bayer specifically mentioned success with the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet. Also eating fish oils, which contain omega-3, provides huge benefits. These can be found in mackerel, herring, and salmon

Exercise is another important factor in reducing risk. By doing 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, diabetics can find benefits.

But many people ignore signs because they are either in denial or angry or stubborn or feel guilty or hopeless, Dr. Bayer said. To be successful, those with diabetes must work with health care professionals such as doctors, diabetic educators, dieticians and others to ensure they can manage the disease successfully.