November is Diabetes Month in Canada and the US. Diabetes is one of 5 key service areas within Lions Clubs internationally.

Diabetes earned Lions’ attention by reaching epidemic proportion in too many parts of the world… including Canada.

“With a staggering one in three Canadians already living with diabetes or prediabetes, including an estimated 1.5 million with undiagnosed diabetes, we must take action now to stop the growth and impact of this disease,” says Rick Blickstead, President and CEO of Diabetes Canada.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, a growing world epidemic that is expected to affect over 642 million by 2040.

Diabetes rates in Canada have almost doubled over the past decade and will continue to rise. Unless action is taken now, one in three people will be living with diabetes or prediabetes by the end of this decade.

Diabetes contributes to 30% of strokes, 40% of heart attacks, 50% of kidney failure requiring dialysis, and 70% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations.

Diabetes and Vision Loss

People with diabetes are at risk of losing sight due to diabetes eye disease.  It is the leading cause of new-onset blindness in many countries.  All people with diabetes – both Type 1 and Type 2 – are at risk. That’s why everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.

Risk of blindness is 25 times higher for diabetics than for those without diabetes.

Diabetes can lead to other possible complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation, and nerve damage. In pregnancy, poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of fetal death and other complications.

Lions and Diabetes Awareness and Avoidance

With these statistics and concerns in mind, Lions have taken action through the Diabetes program. Our work supports diabetes awareness, education, prevention, detection, control, and research.

Lifestyle change is key in mitigating against the further increase in Type 2 Diabetes. Physical activity and a healthy lifestyle are important for those with diabetes or at risk of diabetes.

Strides: Lions for Diabetes Awareness is an event framework. A Strides event promotes healthy exercise and brings an entire community together in the fight against diabetes. In our Lions district (roughly, GTHA), we are initiating Diabetes screening and education sessions. Our Diabetes Journey Goal is to walk 100,000 miles. That’s 70 miles for each Lion in our district.

How are you?

Are you at risk? Find out: Take the Test. It’s a short series of questions. At the end, you’ll get a score and a rating. And maybe you’ll get the motivation to go see your doctor.