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Fewer than eight per cent of Canadians can identify risk factors for diabetes

Survey also finds nearly 60 per cent haven't been screened for the disease within the last year

TORONTO, Nov. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Fewer than eight per cent of Canadians can identify all of the key risk factors for diabetes, according to data released today by Sun Life Financial to mark the start of Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada.

According to the 2013 Sun Life Canadian Health Index™, conducted by Ipsos Reid, nearly 90 per cent of Canadians misidentified at least one risk factor for diabetes, a disease that has been called the epidemic of the 21st century by the World Health Organization.

Risk factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • A parent or sibling who has diabetes
  • Elevated blood glucose levels
  • Elevated blood pressure

"Diabetes is a serious health issue and there's a need to raise awareness about the risk factors to help prevent this disease," says Mary De Paoli, Executive Vice-President, Public & Corporate Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Financial. "Since last fall, Sun Life has committed $10 million to organizations across the country to help educate and empower Canadians to join us in preventing and managing diabetes."

With fewer than eight per cent of Canadians accurately identifying all the risk factors for diabetes and almost 60 per cent not being checked for the disease within the past 12 months, medical experts say there is a need for an increase in public education. Statistics indicate that nearly 1,000,000 people have diabetes in Canada and don't even know it.1  By 2020, it is estimated one in three Canadians will have diabetes or pre-diabetes.1

"Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, amputations, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Gary Lewis, Sun Life Financial Chair in Diabetes at University Health Network and Director of the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre at the University of Toronto. "We are in a unique position to educate Canadians in helping them understand how to prevent diabetes while slowing the advance of its related complications."

Sun Life Financial is also partnering with hockey legend Doug Gilmour to raise awareness about this disease by sponsoring Dougieball 2, a charitable event in Toronto on November 12, 2013 to raise funds and support for diabetes research. Doug Gilmour lost his dad to diabetes and he has family members living with this disease.

For more key findings and results on the 2013 Sun Life Canadian Health Index TM, visit www.sunlife.ca/CanadianHealthIndex. For more information on Sun Life Financial's commitment and donations to raise awareness and prevent diabetes, visit www.sunlife.ca/diabetes.

About the survey

The Sun Life Canadian Health Index™ measures the attitudes of Canadians towards healthy lifestyles and reports these in the form of an index.

The fourth annual Sun Life Canadian Health Index™ is based on the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between May 10-24, 2013. A sample of 2,400 Canadians from 18 to 80 years of age from the Ipsos Reid Canadian panel was interviewed online.

Ipsos Reid employed weighting to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

The precision of Ipsos Reid online surveys is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey is accurate to within + / - 2 percentage points had all Canadian adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to methodological change, coverage error and measurement error.

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of June 30, 2013, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $591 billion. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Note to Editors: All figures in Canadian dollars.

_______________
1 Canadian Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.ca.

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Canada

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