Anew, national diabetes management program is designed to help people remain healthy as time passes after a diagnosis.

Research shows that when people are first told that they have Type 2 diabetes, they are often conscientious about taking care of themselves, but may slack off with time as the lifestyle changes become more difficult to keep up.

But help is on the way. The Canadian Diabetes Association and the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., announced a $5-million partnership to create the national strategy on Wednesday.

The association has evidence-based guidelines on what doctors and patients should try to achieve in controlling diabetes. The program aims to disseminate the information to the more than two million Canadians living with diabetes.

"I think taking medication is often easier than following a healthy diet and exercising on a daily basis," said Irene Hramiak, the principal investigator for the Diabetes Management Strategy project at UWO.

There is a fatigue factor in having to think about diabetes at every meal, and when the management of diabetes starts to go downhill, problems associated with the disease start to climb, Hramiak said.

2 types of problems arise

Two types of complications can arise: heart disease and microvascular complications such as problems with the eyes, kidneys and foot ulcers.

"Diabetics need to understand that treatment of their diabetes, their blood pressure, their cholesterol, taking an Aspirin daily, all of those things help in terms of preventing heart disease," Hramiak told CBC Newsworld.

Over the next 10 years, the groups plan to come up with a guide for people to use to manage diabetes, including a registry of electronic medical records on a patient's treatment and care that researchers will use to study incidence rates, new treatments and management strategies.

Diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 45,000 Canadians each year. Diabetes and its complications cost the Canadian health-care system an estimated $13.2 billion a year, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.