Northwestern doctors are looking for money to better spread the word that diet, exercise and dental care keep people healthy and away from Type 2 diabetes and other factors that lead to heart attacks, strokes and other serious health outcomes.
Through a professional grouping called the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice, the physicians are applying to the Prince George-based Northern Development Initiative Trust for a grant to convert a bus into a mobile medical clinic carrying a dental expert, a dietitian and an exercise specialist.
The bus would expand an existing program in the region called Change BC that connects people through their family doctors with an exercise specialist and dietitian. Lifestyle programs are tailored for each patient and each patient participates in the program for one year.
The program, a first of its kind, has been going since 2018 and statistics cited by the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice indicate that one-third of the participants report a reversal of metabolic syndrome, the collection of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol are among the conditions identified within metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when a person has three of the following five conditions — waist circumference, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
One in five British Columbians already has diabetes or conditions that can lead to diabetes, the group of physicians reports.
They add that diabetes is responsible for 40 per cent of heart attacks, 30 per cent of strokes and half of the kidney failures that then require dialysis. It also leads to lower limb amputations and is a leading cause of vision loss.
Good oral health can also advance efforts to prevent and manage diabetes.
Successful prevention and treatment will also lower health care costs, the doctors say.
Houston physician Dr. Onuora Odoh, a leading advocate within the northwest for exercise and diet, represented the Northwest Division of Family Practice in seeking a support letter for its grant application from the District of Houston council during at its Jan. 16 meeting.
The Northern Development Initiative Trust program can provide up to $300,000 over three years and the District of Houston council agreed to provide a support letter.
Also being approached is the Bulkley-Nechako regional district.
Money for the Northern Healthy Communities Fund comes from the provincial government to assist communities in dealing with the effects of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline which passes south of Houston to feed the LNG Canada natural gas liquefaction facility now under construction in Kitimat.