World Diabetes Day Is Today, Frederick Banting's Birthday

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Today is World Diabetes Day, the annual day to bring awareness to the dangers of diabetes, the metabolic disease where the body's inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood.

The theme of this year's World Diabetes Day is "Eyes on Diabetes," focusing on promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications. Type 2 diabetes often develops slowly in people over time and can contribute to heart disease, strokes, blindness, kidney failure or poor blood flow in limbs which causes risk of amputation.

Numerous landmarks around the world have been lit up in blue light today to honour World Diabetes Day, including Maschio Angioino in Naples, Italy, the Ferris wheel in Qingdao, China, the dome in Kigali, Rwanda and the presidency building in Islamabad, Pakistan.

In Canada the Canadian Diabetes Association started the day with a morning information session at Toronto's Union Station. The Association also has a helpful online test to determine if you're at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Established by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization in 1991, World Diabetes Day was created as a response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. The IDF estimates 415 million people worldwide, or nine per cent of adults aged 20-79, have some form of diabetes.

According to the IDF, 70 per cent of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthier lifestyles. Because of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity among children, young people are facing an increasing risk of diabetes right now. The IDF estimates 12 per cent of all health expenditure around the world is currently spent on adults with diabetes.

The reason why World Diabetes Day takes place on November 14 is because that's the birthday of one of the pioneers in diabetes research, the late Canadian scientist Sir Frederick Banting. A Nobel Prize winner in physiology and medicine, Banting was the first person to use diabetes controlling insulin, the hormone that keeps blood sugar levels from fluctuating too high or low, on humans.

Watch a video about who Frederick Banting was:

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