Diabetes in the Workplace

Dec 29, 2014

The median age in Canada is 40.2 and 60% of Canadians are obese. These statistics are alarming when we consider that age and weight are the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes. In fact, by 2020, one out of three Canadians will have either prediabetes or diabetes. If not managed well, diabetes will impact the heart, circulatory system, vision and even increase the risk of depression.

The rise in diabetes also impacts the economy as the cost of diabetes is forecasted to reach $13.5 billion by the end of 2014[1]. However, employers can have an impact on reducing the financial stress for their diabetic employees as well as those who are not diagnosed (yet) with the disease. The following relatively simple actions can be implemented in the workplace:

  1. Clinical Assessments – Annual clinical assessments that take only 15 minutes to complete tests for blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight can assist in preventing a host of diseases, including diabetes. On-site screening can increase awareness which leads to education targeting certain disease categories.
  1. Education – Implementing workplace education can raise awareness among all employees. Many resources are readily available at no cost through the Canadian Diabetes Association, local diabetes education centres at hospitals, and pharmacies that have specialized educators on diabetes management.
  1. Healthier Lifestyles – Providing motivational workplace programs such as team based fitness challenges, walking clubs, yoga classes, nutrition workshops can support behavioural change and long term disease management.

Given the growing prevalence and cost of diabetes, employers stand to benefit as much as their employees with the implementation of some of these strategies. Not only will it assist those employees, their spouses and/or children, it also prevents those who are considered ‘high risk’ of getting diabetes.

[1] Canadian Diabetes Cost Model. Canadian Diabetes Association, Toronto May 2004

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