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Diabetes study targets high-risk ethnic groups

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Some ethnic communities are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but a new research project in Toronto hopes to prevent the risk from becoming reality.

Some ethnic communities are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but a new research project in Toronto hopes to prevent the risk from becoming reality.

People with pre-diabetes show a slight increase in blood glucose. The condition typically develops into Type 2 diabetes within two to five years. Type 2 diabetes is directly related to obesity and is rarely reversible.

People of South Asian, African, African-Caribbean and Chinese descent are at high risk for the disease.

Researchers at Toronto’s York University are recruiting 300 participants for a study that will try to determine whether diabetes can be prevented in these ethnics groups by getting people to engage in more physical activity, said researcher Chip Rowan.

The study aims to “find out how effective physical activity is at reducing people’s risk of Type 2 diabetes and improving their blood glycemic profile,” said Rowan.

The research team is looking for participants at Yorkgate Mall and in the Agincourt North community who are at moderate risk of developing diabetes.

Sports, cultural activities encouraged

To that end, they’re pricking fingers and using a row of three blood testing machines that can check average blood sugar levels in 10 minutes.

Carol Fiedtkou said she wants to participate in the study because of a family history.

Type 1 diabetes research

The federal government announced a $30-million partnership with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Canada on Monday.

The partnership aims to expand research on Type 1 diabetes in southern Ontario and bring new technologies to the market, Gary Goodyear, minister of state for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, announced at the University of Waterloo.

The funding will help support research such as the foundation’s artificial pancreas project and regenerative medicine.

Ottawa will invest $20 million and the foundation will contribute $10 million.

“My mum, she was, she is as a matter of fact, a diabetic case,” said Fiedtkou, who is from Guyana. “I kind of fear, maybe I might eventually get it. So that’s why I think the program is very interesting.”

After participants are recruited, certified exercise physiologists will be matched to those people by ethnic background and language. They will provide traditional games such as badminton, basketball and soccer, and cultural activities like tai chi and Bollywood dance, and education classes in small group settings.

A similar project involving Northern Ontario’s aboriginal community is slated to start in April 2010.

If the program is a success, researchers hope the same principles can be used across the country to prevent diabetes in minority groups.

About 8.8 per cent of Ontarians over age 20 ? about one in every 11 ? had diabetes in 2005, according to a study published in 2007.

The project is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

© CBC News. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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