Diabetes: 21st century epidemic with almost 40 per cent of Canadian lives touched by disease

Sun Life commits $5 million to combat diabetes and support transformational research

TORONTO, Nov. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Today is World Diabetes Day. Diabetes is a disease that is growing in Canada with almost 40 per cent of Canadians having someone in their lives impacted by the disease according to the 2012 Sun Life Canadian Health IndexTM.

It is projected that one in three Canadians will be living with diabetes or prediabetes in less than a decade*. With so many people impacted by this disease, the World Health Organization has called diabetes the epidemic of the 21st century with approximately 4.6 million deaths around the world last year**. 

To help combat this epidemic, Sun Life Financial announced a five year commitment of $5 million to the University Health Network (UHN). This donation will support transformational research focused on bringing us closer to a cure, as well as promoting and providing prevention and care programs. This commitment will also complement Sun Life Financial's existing support for other programs and future support for diabetes.

"We're pleased to commit our support for diabetes, the first time in our company's almost 150 year history that we have focused on a single health-related cause to this extent," said Mary

De Paoli, Executive Vice-President, Public and Corporate Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Financial.

"It is a perfect fit with our company's mission of helping people achieve lifetime financial security as healthier Canadians can be more financially secure because they can lead longer and more productive lives," said De Paoli. "It also fits with our business focus on workplace health and wellness, where we saw an exciting opportunity to raise awareness to empower Canadians to join us in efforts to prevent and manage this disease."

Sun Life Financial's $5 million donation to the UHN will help support innovative advances in research and care. UHN has been a trailblazer in diabetes research and care in Canada since the ground-breaking discovery of insulin by Doctor Frederick Banting and Doctor Charles Best in 1921. The world-leading clinic at the UHN will be named the Sun Life Financial Banting and Best Diabetes Clinic.

"We are tremendously inspired by this announcement," said Dr. Gary Lewis, Head of the Division of Endocrinology at UHN. "Sun Life's corporate endorsement and financial investment will help us prevent, manage and cure diabetes by promoting healthy lifestyles; developing interventions that improve quality of life; and discovering new treatments."

Diabetes impacts not only those with the disease, but also family, friends and loved ones. Research from the 2012 Sun Life Canadian Health IndexTM also found that the impact of those lives touched by diabetes varies by region:

  • Atlantic: 44 per cent
  • Quebec: 32 per cent
  • Ontario: 40 per cent
  • Manitoba/Saskatchewan: 41 per cent
  • Alberta: 39 per cent
  • British Columbia: 36 per cent

Sun Life Financial understands the importance of diabetes prevention and its impact on the lives of many Canadians as the prevalence of this disease has doubled since 2000*. In addition to health concerns, in 2010 diabetes had a direct cost of about $12 billion on Canada's health care system and these costs are growing*. In Sun Life's Group Benefits business, the financial costs directly related to diabetes increased by 50 per cent in just five years. While some people are genetically predisposed to Type 2 diabetes, it is highly preventable or managed through diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

Join the conversation to raise awareness by sharing your story and show your support using #LiveaBrighterLife on Twitter. For tips on managing and preventing diabetes, please visit BrighterLife.ca. To learn more about Sun Life's commitment - watch this video and visit www.sunlife.ca/diabetes.

*Source: Canadian Diabetes Association
**Source: World Health Organization
***Source: International Diabetes Federation

 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. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Vietnam and Bermuda. As of September 30, 2012, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $515 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.

 About University Health Network

University Health Network (UHN) consists of Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The scope of research and complexity of cases have made UHN a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care.  It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, and genomic medicine.  UHN is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. www.uhn.ca

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SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.



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