Saskatchewan diabetes more than doubles in 10 years, part of worldwide trend

More than a quarter of the province's population has been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Over a quarter of province's population has been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes

Diabetes is becoming increasingly common in Saskatchewan. (Celso Pupo)

An estimated 97,000 people in Saskatchewan have diabetes, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association. That's a 59 per cent increase from 10 years ago, and part of an international trend.

In the last 35 years diabetes has almost quadrupled worldwide, according to a new report from the World Health Organization.

In Saskatchewan, that 97,000 represents about one in 12 residents. But the Canadian Diabetes Association is concerned about the 175,000 people who are identified as having pre-diabetes, meaning their blood sugars are elevated. 

"If they're unable to make some changes, they are going to have diabetes in the near term," said Warren Wagner, regional director for the Canadian Diabetes Association in the Prairies. 
The combination of people living with diabetes or pre-diabetes represents 28.5 per cent of Saskatchewan's population, and many are expected to be living with it but are undiagnosed. 

Diabetes increasingly common in children

Wagner says he's seeing people being diagnosed earlier and earlier. It used to be that people were typically diagnosed in their late-30s and mid-40s. 

"Now unfortunately we're seeing children as young as nine or 10 years old actually being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes."

Wagner also said ethnicity can be a precursor, which is a concern for the 15 per cent of Saskatchewan's population that is aboriginal. 

"Unfortunately aboriginal people have a propensity to contract the disease at rates that are two, three, four times higher than non-aboriginal people," he said. "And given the makeup of Saskatchewan that is a cause for concern for that community and all the people of the province."

Wagner has a lot of concern over Type 2 diabetes, the version that develops usually from excessive weight. But he said those living with diabetes can manage it. Through diet and exercise diabetes can be kept out of the critical range, and in some cases people don't need to take medication. 

"Unfortunately we don't have as many people doing that as perhaps would be ideal," he said.