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Canadians Living with Diabetes Not Getting Enough Support

New survey unveils the unmet needs of Canadians living with diabetes

TORONTO, ON (February 29, 2012) - More than three million Canadians are living with diabetes(1) and yet, when it comes to managing their disease on a daily basis, more than one-in-four respondents say they feel alone. 

A new 2012 survey commissioned by Sanofi Canada, being released in collaboration with the Canadian Diabetes Association, sheds light on the gaps in support for Canadians living with diabetes. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents do not have a full support system including nutrition, fitness, emotional and motivational resources to help them manage their diabetes.  Sixty-three per cent feel that living with diabetes can be a burden and one-in-three wish they had someone to talk to who understands their day-to-day experiences and challenges. 

“Canadians with diabetes want to be responsible and proactive when it comes to managing their disease.  However, this survey reveals that they lack specific forms of needed support to manage their disease such as the opportunity to consult with experts in nutrition and physical activity as well as emotional and motivational support,” says pharmacist and certified diabetes educator Susie Jin.

Previous Canadian Diabetes Association research revealed that approximately half of Canadians living with diabetes do not have their blood glucose levels under control.

“It is not surprising that more than one-quarter (27 per cent) worry that they do not know enough about their disease in order to properly manage their blood glucose levels.  Ignoring the unmet needs of Canadians with diabetes compromises their ability to self-manage their condition and can potentially lead to a perfect storm of diabetes-related complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and depression,” adds Jin.

Support Snapshot by Province
The majority of respondents indicated low levels of diabetes support across Canada.  Seventy-six per cent of respondents living in the Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) indicated that they do not have a full diabetes support system. For Quebecers, that figure was even higher at 88 per cent.

When it comes to support and advice, almost 40 per cent of respondents report not having access to a diabetes expert such as a dietitian or nutritionist to turn to for nutrition advice and tips to meet their specific needs. Ninety per cent do not have a fitness expert to consult with when they require specific advice about how exercise impacts their diabetes.  Of those who do have these supports, 63 per cent who have a diabetes nutrition expert and 64 per cent who have a fitness expert find it beneficial.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of respondents said they do not currently have emotional support in their life to help manage their disease.  The survey revealed that males (57 per cent) are more likely than females (53 per cent) to have emotional support.

When it comes to wishing they had someone to talk to - females (37 per cent) and those aged 35-54 ranked highest (43 per cent), as well as Quebecers (49 per cent).  More than half (55 per cent) of respondents share information about living with diabetes openly.  While a third (33 per cent) wish they had someone to talk to who understands what they are going through on a daily basis.  This confirms previous Canadian Diabetes Association research indicating the concerns of people living with diabetes of discrimination experienced based on health status contributing to their sense of isolation.

“I can relate to the findings of this survey as my son lives with type 1 diabetes and I know the importance of having a full diabetes support system,” says Jacquie Beavis, Chair, National Advocacy Council, Canadian Diabetes Association.  “Government’s should be doing more to ensure people living with diabetes have access to a diabetes support system and receive the same level of support no matter where they live in Canada.”

Top Concerns
More than 75 per cent of respondents worry about the complications associated with diabetes, with those aged 35-55 (83 per cent) worrying the most.

More than 80 per cent feel that they are managing their diabetes to the best of their ability - and yet, almost half (48 per cent) admit that they do not always monitor their blood glucose levels throughout the day exactly as they should. 

Quebecers (63 per cent) and those in the Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) (51.6 per cent) ranked highest when it came to properly monitoring blood glucose levels.  And, almost a third (27 per cent) worry they do not know enough about their diabetes in order to properly manage their blood glucose levels regularly.

“This survey shows that although people with diabetes are trying to manage their disease to the best of their ability, they require education and support in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them,” says Michael Cloutier, President and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association. “We believe that all people with diabetes in Canada should have access to the supports they need to optimally manage their condition, live healthy lives and avoid diabetes complications.”

The Canadian Diabetes Association has a 50-year history of providing education and resources in communities across the nation.  This includes 12 camps for children and their families with type 1 diabetes; a toll-free information number; online resources including interactive tools; and Regional Leadership Centres located in communities across Canada.

“While the Canadian Diabetes Association is providing support, we cannot do it alone.  Meeting the needs of people living with diabetes in a more comprehensive and meaningful way will require an enhanced partnership of governments, healthcare professionals and other key stakeholders working together to improve programs and services,” adds Cloutier.

About the Survey
From January 20th to January 23rd, 2012, an online survey was conducted among a sample of 1,000 Canadians with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who are Angus Reid Forum panel members.  The margin of error on the full base - which measures sampling variability - is +/- 3.1%.  The confidence level is 95% (19 times out of 20).  Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About the Canadian Diabetes Association
The Canadian Diabetes Association is a registered charitable organization, leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure. Our professional staff and more than 20,000 volunteers provide education and services to help people in their daily fight against the disease, advocate on behalf of people with diabetes for the opportunity to achieve their highest quality of life, and break ground towards a cure. Please visit, join us on, follow us on Twitter @DiabetesAssoc, or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

About Sanofi
Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions,
human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi companies in Canada include sanofi-aventis Canada Inc. (pharmaceuticals), Sanofi Pasteur (vaccines), Sanofi Consumer Health (health and beauty), Genzyme (rare diseases) and Merial (animal health). Together they employ more than 1,700 people, mainly in the greater Montreal and Toronto areas. In 2010 Sanofi companies invested $159.2 million in R&D in Canada, creating jobs, business and opportunity throughout the country.


For more information or to coordinate interviews, please contact:
David Weinstein, Rebecca Crittenden or Debra Quinn at Strategic Objectives:
TEL: (416) 366-7735 TOLL-FREE: 1-866-366-7733
E: Randi Garcha
Manager, National Media Relations & External Communications
Canadian Diabetes Association
Tel: 416-408-7071

(1) Canadian Diabetes Association (

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