Healthy eating and frequent exercise are key to reducing risk of diabetes

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The good news is that you’re doing your best to be healthy by watching your diet and staying active. The bad news is that diabetes is still on the rise, especially in Alberta.

The latest statistics released from the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) indicate that more than 217,000 Albertans were diagnosed with both types of the disease last year alone. Health researchers anticipate that this number will increase to more than 363,000 each year by 2020, which would be the highest rate of increase in the country.

Katie Ostler, marketing and communications representative with the local branch of the CDA, says that it’s really just simple math.

“It’s the same explanation as everywhere. Diabetes, in general, is on the rise because of the aging population,” she said.

People of some ethnicities, including South Asians and aboriginals, have a higher predisposition to developing diabetes but there are some basic factors that influence the risk to all people.

“Aging population is the number one reason,” Ostler said. “Another one is lifestyle. People are living more sedentary lifestyles than they were previously. They have more desk jobs.”

She encouraged people to follow some obvious rules of thumb about staying healthy. It all starts with watching what you eat.

“Fast food is more convenient. It’s more accessible when it’s pre-packaged and cheaper than buying fresh fruits and vegetables so that’s another reason,” she said.

“It’s common sense. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Try to keep your weight at a healthy range.”

You can eat all the apples and carrots in the world but you should still get out often to move your body and get your heart pumping a little stronger. Ostler suggests 150 minutes of exercise every week.

“It’s very easy to achieve that,” she said. “That’s a little more than 20 minutes a day. That’s not bad.”

That’s how you can help yourself to prevent or at least postpone Type II diabetes. Type I, or juvenile diabetes, isn’t preventable as there isn’t yet a known cause.

The Canadian Diabetes Association helps diabetics to live healthy lives while actively working to find a cure. It provides education and services, advocacy, and support for medical research.

There are currently nine million Canadians who live with diabetes or pre-diabetes, the state in which some but not all of the diagnostic criteria are met.

To learn more, call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464) or visit www.diabetes.ca.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.