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CHEO opens new “active living” clinic for children to fight diabetes

DiabetesFeb 09, 11

Severely obese children and those at high risk of type 2 diabetes will have a place to get counselling and treatment with the opening of a new outpatient clinic run by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

Among other things, the Centre for Healthy Active Living will provide early screening to children who have at least one parent with type 2 diabetes, commonly linked to sedentary lifestyles and diets loaded with fat and sugar. Research suggests children of parents with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing the disease themselves.

Diabetes, which disrupts sugar uptake in the blood, is the leading cause of blindness, amputations and kidney failure; over a lifetime, it can triple a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetics whose symptoms are poorly managed are more likely to get caught in a revolving door of expensive, often ineffective hospital visits. As a result, early intervention is key.

Children who are recommended by their family physicians to the clinic will have access to counselling and weight-management programs aimed at increasing their physical activity and improving their eating habits. Up to 92 patients a year are expected to be treated at the centre.

The Ontario government has committed $660,000 in annual funding over the next three years to the clinic, part of a four-year $741-million provincial plan focused on the prevention, early detection and treatment of diabetes.

The McGuinty government has also banned junk food sales from schools and tried to “instil a culture of physical activity” by mandating that schools provide at least 20 minutes of daily exercise to their students, said Yasir Naqvi, Liberal MPP for Ottawa Centre.

Revised figures suggest Eastern Ontario’s diabetes rate is expected to soar higher than previously thought. Over the next five years, more than 47,000 new cases could be diagnosed — a number roughly equal to the population of Cornwall.

The projected rate is higher because past forecasts did not factor in the effects of a rising number of merely overweight people in the population; instead, they typically focused only on the obese.

Nine per cent of all Eastern Ontarians — more than 89,000 — are diagnosed with diabetes. But the numbers are likely higher given the many more people who have the disease have not yet been diagnosed. It’s estimated thousands more have abnormal blood-sugar levels that qualify as pre-diabetes.

In recent years, an increasing number of young adults and children have been diagnosed with the disease.

Across Canada, one in four children are overweight or obese. Of these children, one in three have “severe complex obesity” that leads to complications such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea, which results in difficulty breathing.

Such diseases, once thought to afflict only adults, have become commonplace as the rates of childhood obesity have risen sharply, said Dr. Stasia Hadjiyannakis, a pediatric endocrinologist and the new CHEO clinic’s director.

“We want to help these kids and their families to make real, lasting change in their lives that will result in improved health, self esteem, confidence and overall well being,” Hadjiyannakis said.

The storefront clinic, located on the ground floor of a building at Bank Street and Riverside Drive, brings together a team of 10 physicians, dietitians, nurse practitioners, social workers and exercise specialists. A shortage of space at CHEO’s Smyth Road campus prompted the hospital to set up the clinic off-site, said chief executive Michel Bilodeau.

The Ottawa Citizen


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