The Diabetes Challenge

Youth-onset type 2 diabetes is rising globally. It is initially invisible but progressive and cell damage can be in progress at time of diagnosis. Increasingly, youth-onset type 2 cases are not responsive to the standard therapy of healthy eating, daily exercise and medications and soon also require insulin. Delayed diagnosis and hence, treatment, means youth-onset type 2 can be more severe than youth-onset type 1 and definitely more severe than adult-onset type 2.

40% of people with type 2 do not know they have the condition.
70% of type 2 cases can be prevented or delayed.
65% of complications in either type 1 or type 2 can be prevented or delayed.
40% 70% 65%
40% of people with type 2 do not know they have the condition. 70% of type 2 cases can be prevented or delayed. 65% of complications in either type 1 or type 2 can be prevented or delayed.

Diabetes is a life-long condition requiring constant self-management attention to be safe, enjoy life and realize ones full potential. Diabetes, poorly managed, can lead to serious, life-threatening complications including heart disease, kidney disease, diabetic foot complications, eye disease, nerve disease and accompanying conditions like high blood glucose, high blood pressure and high fat levels in the blood.

According to the IDF 10th Wprld Diabetes Atlas, at the end of 2021, 537 million adults (20-79) worldwide were living with diabetes.

Over 1.1 million youth (0 – 19) were living with type 1 diabetes. The number of youth living with type 2 is unknown, unfortunately, but the numbers are escalating; strongly correlated to overweight/obesity and inactivity. There are also bi-directional relationships among diabetes, obesity and mental health difficulties. 

Indigenous peoples in Canada; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia; and African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans in the USA are at higher risk of type 2

 “Diabetes is a pandemic of unprecedented magnitude. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization launched the Global Diabetes Compact and United Nations Member States adopted a Resolution that calls for urgent coordinated global action to tackle diabetes. These are significant milestones, but words must be turned into action now, and if not now, when?”     – Prof. Andrew Boulton, President, International Diabetes Federation, (Nov, 2021)

The SFBLF Rural Diabetes Coalition is a cooperative initiative to extend the reach and impact of our Youth-onset Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Campaign and support the global imperative starting with the counties adjacent to the SFBLF Diabetes Management and Education Centre in Alliston, Ontario.

Councils, municipalities; District Health Units; School Boards operating, in whole or part, within the region;  pediatric diabetes centres, family health teams; and community-based groups are invited to join. All are on the front line of the youth-onset diabetes challenge. Their common ability to drive change puts these organizations in a prime position to meet the challenge and bend the diabetes curve through cooperative, innovative and sustainable solutions. Rural communities must share the responsibility. No single entity can solve the challenge alone.

Coalition Purpose

  • Youth-onset Diabetes Awareness and Prevention throughout the life-course
  • Enhanced visibility and sharing of existing diabetes-related prevention programs
  • Advocacy to help resolve persistent youth-onset diabetes issues

“I am pleased to support the work of the Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation (SFBLF) in its creation of a Rural Diabetes Coalition to further the impact of its youth-onset Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Campaign. Youth-onset diabetes is a growing problem in Canada and around the world. Poor health decisions made today can lead to problematic health outcomes in adulthood. This is why the work that the SFBLF will be doing to reach 150,000 kids via schoolboards in Simcoe, Grey, Muskoka and Dufferin Counties is so important. I am proud to get behind this ambitious and much-needed campaign.”

– Terry Dowdall, Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey

Coalition Focus

  • 150,000 school-age children and youth in the region

“I am pleased to support the Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation and its campaign to engage rural students on the important issue of diabetes prevention.  The Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Campaign is a worthy initiative that will encourage early diagnosis and treatment, helping to ensure that our youth are able to enjoy a better learning experience and more fulfilling lives.”

– Jim Wilson, Member of Provincial Parliament for Simcoe-Grey

Coalition Objectives

For all school-age children and youth

  • Raise awareness, help them and their families to understand:
    • diabetes basics and myths
    • how to reduce their risk of youth-onset Type 2 diabetes
    • what it’s like to live with diabetes
    • how they can help peers with diabetes at school
  • Encourage a preliminary online diabetes risk test followed by screening if indicated
  • Test diabetes knowledge via online quizzes
  • Facilitate access to community-based programs that support healthy eating, regular exercise, maintenance of appropriate body weight, smoking cessation and mental health

For school-age children and youth living with diabetes

  • Help prevent diabetes complications for both T1 and T2
  • Facilitate access to peer networks, online self-management applications, food insecurity tools, Individual Care Plan templates
  • Foster implementation of in-school support processes
  • Emphasize early planning and continuity of care for transition to adult healthcare

Coalition Collective Capability

The scale of the youth-onset diabetes pandemic and the complexity of required responses to help stem that tide create a challenge that no single entity can solve alone. Hence, the need for collaborative responses and the opportunity for the Rural Diabetes Coalition to make a difference.

In addition to expanded action to raise awareness and prevent youth-onset diabetes in the region, SFBLF undertook a research initiative focused on Dufferin, Grey, Simcoe Counties and the District Municipality of Muskoka. The research was conducted by 3 undergraduates from 3 Canadian universities as part of the SFBLF Annual Intern Research Program. The undergraduates are all studying in healthcare related programs. Their work was conducted during the period November 2021 to end of May 2022. The resulting Report was released nationally and internationally on June 27, 2022.

The Report was provided directly to:
* Mayors and Deputy Mayors of the 41 Municipalities, along with a proposed Council Resolution for supporting action [download Resolution Now]
* the 3 District Health Units and 8 School Boards operating in the RDC geography
* Public Health Agency Canada and the Ontario Premier and Ministers of Health and Education.
* the many diabetes and related healthcare organizations that were reviewed as part of the research project.

The purpose of this Report is to:
* Strengthen and expand youth-onset diabetes awareness and prevention actions
* Enhance visibility and access for existing diabetes-related prevention and treatment programs
* Foster early action to close key gaps in available support for youth with diabetes
* Encourage advocacy to help resolve persistent youth-onset diabetes issues

The Report provides information and focus to help achieve that outcome. Download Now

The Report includes:
* An inventory of organizations and programs that together set an example for concerted rural community engagement and help for the prevention and treatment of youth-onset diabetes.
* Descriptions of context factors that affect the needs and opportunities for action
* Identification of opportunities for enhancing the collective capability
* A detailed RDC Scorecard a summary of which is included below

SFBLF thanks Novo Nordisk Canada for the funding to complete this research project.

SFBLF Support For The Coalition

  • Leadership in researching, assembling, assessing and reporting the regional Collective Capability for diabetes prevention and related healthcare delivery
  • SFBLF diabetes risk self-assessment tools, infographics, eLearning courses and other educational resources [download here]
  • Design and production of 2 Diabetes Infographics, a 2-sided ‘take-away’ Rack Card and colouring sheets. These materials are being provided at no cost to all 66 Foodbanks in the RDC
  • Content elements suitable for use on partner web sites
  • Web page with a list of all diabetes healthcare and related provider organizations within the RDC geography
  • Youth-onset Diabetes risk reduction and prevention actions program for youth and parents, students and teachers [see Prevention Action]

Join the Coalition Form

Coalition Member Focus