The Canadian Diabetes Association combined food, fun, and fitness at a community barbecue in North Central Regina aimed at making the aboriginal community more aware that they face a far higher risk of developing the life threatening disease.

More than 85 thousand people in Saskatchewan have diabetes  and if you are aboriginal your risk of developing it are up to five to seven times greater than average.

Jamie Favel is aware of the numbers as diabetes runs in her family.

She took part in a pre-screening for diabetes at the community health clinic and barbecue.

“You know it was scary and I really did not want to go but a friend talked me into it.   He said  it was better to know that to not know.”

Brie Hnetka is with the Canadian diabetes association.

She says more and more young people are developing the disease.

Hnetka says a lot of it has to do with genetics,  but she says type two diabetes can be controlled.

“Absolutely,  life-style changes can be a huge, huge factor.   So if you can make some of those life-style changes now perhaps you can delay the onset or just live a lot healthier with it.”

The executive director of the North Central community association,  Rob Deglau says providing people with knowledge  is making a difference and has led to early detection before complications set in.

“In previous years we actually found some people that were border line diabetic and if it wasn’t for our testing they could have had some serious difficulties.”

The longer you wait to be tested,  the greater your risk of complications.

Early detection, exercise and diet can play a critical role in managing the disease and living a long and healthy life.

Untreated it can lead to blindness, kidney failure and the loss of limbs.

Nearly 10% of the Saskatchewan population has diabetes and that number is growing every year, with the greatest increase happening in the aboriginal community.

The Canadian diabetes association says the disease costs the provincial health care system about 420 million dollars a year.