From L to R: Carl Valentine (U-16 Residency Assistant Coach, Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Joy Johnson (VP Research & International, SFU), Brian Hilberdink (President, Novo Nordisk Canada), Heather Deal (Deputy Mayor, City of Vancouver), Rick Blickstead (President and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association), Ben McKendry (soccer player, Vancouver Whitecaps FC), and Ann-Britt Everett (Danish Honorary Consul).

SFU health sciences joins fight against urban diabetes

November 14, 2016

Simon Fraser University has joined the City of Vancouver, the Canadian Diabetes Association, Vancouver Coastal Health and Novo Nordisk Canada Inc. in launching Cities Changing Diabetes in Vancouver to help tackle urban diabetes. Approximately 60,000 people in Vancouver currently live with type 2 diabetes – the most common form of diabetes – and roughly 120,000 more are at risk of developing diabetes in their lifetime.

Cities Changing Diabetes Vancouver is part of a global commitment towards urgent action against urban diabetes. The initiative aims to map the extent of the disease in urban areas, and reduce its risk by bringing businesses, city leaders and planners, healthcare professionals, academics, and community leaders together. Vancouver joins the cities of Copenhagen, Houston, Johannesburg, Mexico City, Shanghai, and Tianjin in this global initiative.

SFU health sciences professor Scott Lear has been selected as the academic lead for Cities Changing Diabetes Vancouver. Lear, who also holds the Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul's Hospital, has an impressive track record of leading international studies investigating the causes of disease, including the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological Study conducted in 22 countries.

Lear will be researching the social and environmental causes of diabetes in the city to achieve a more holistic understanding of the disease and its development. His research will lay the foundation for reducing the prevalence of diabetes in Vancouver. Currently, the rates of type 2 diabetes varies amongst Vancouver’s neighborhoods, with a low of about 5% on the Westside to a high of about 10% in South Vancouver.

“At SFU, we believe that through cross-collaborative efforts like Cities Changing Diabetes, significant headway can be made towards addressing urban diabetes and reducing its rapid growth,” says Joy Johnson, Vice-President Research and International at SFU.

She adds: “We are proud to be an academic partner in this endeavour that will improve the health of local communities."