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May 4, 2011
Type 2 diabetes prevention focuses on high risk populations in Toronto
Toronto Public Health (TPH) is taking action to prevent type 2 diabetes among Toronto residents by providing outreach services directly to priority populations who have a higher risk of illness.

Research indicates that people from disadvantaged communities are disproportionately affected by diabetes and evidence shows that people living in poverty have higher rates of the disease. Poverty rates in Toronto, combined with an aging population and increasing rates of obesity, all indicate that the illness is likely to have an increasingly negative impact on residents.

During the past two years, TPH has implemented a diabetes prevention pilot project in the Rexdale and Malvern neighbourhoods. Residents from these neighbourhoods participated in a diabetes risk assessment. Of the 1,110 people who completed the assessment, 27 per cent were at a high or very high risk of getting diabetes within 10 years and 46 per cent of the residents were at a moderate risk of becoming diabetic within 10 years.

“Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in Toronto and we know who is at risk,” said Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for Toronto. “Awareness of diabetes risk factors is key to preventing the disease and we are now promoting awareness of type 2 diabetes to priority populations across Toronto.”

With funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport, TPH staff worked with the Rexdale Community Health Centre and the TAIBU Community Health Centre in Malvern to provide culturally appropriate prevention programs among priority neighbourhoods, including South and East Asian, Black, Latin American and Aboriginal populations, and low-income groups.

More than 7,000 community members were engaged in some form of diabetes prevention activity. TPH nurses and dietitians delivered programs promoting healthy eating, physical activity and supportive environments. To increase access to healthy food, groups have participated in workshops on food canning and preserving workshops. Sessions on balcony gardening will be held later this spring to continue to encourage healthy eating.

Advertisements running in ethno-cultural and commuter media outlets were created in consultation with residents and community groups from Malvern and Rexdale. The ads feature photos of community residents.

Toronto residents are encouraged to find out how to reduce their risk of diabetes and to assess their personal level of risk by participating in the diabetes prevention project and completing the CANRISK survey on the TPH website. More information is available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media Contact
Rishma Govani
Toronto Public Health



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