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Question 2:  Does Diabetes Affect Men And Women Equally?

To consider:

Indigenous women suffer more from diabetes (both in prevalence and in complications) than indigenous men.  This stems from carrying a personal burden, and also from performing the role of primary care-giver to ill family members.  The health of Aboriginal women, from an epidemiological perspective, has been widely studied in Canada.

The life expectancy for Canadian Aboriginal women is 76.2 years[1].  Initially, this number may seem impressive.  However, when compared to non-Aboriginal women in Canada, who have a life expectancy of 81.0 years, disparity is noted [1].  And although gains have been made since 1991, when the life expectancy for Aboriginal women was less than 75 years, this disparity has remained intact [2]Aboriginal women are more likely to suffer from heart and lung problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers than non-Aboriginal women [1].  Furthermore, diabetes within the Aboriginal community shows a preponderance for women with a ratio of two to one when compared to men [1] [2].  Similar findings exist in Native American populations where women have higher rates than men, and those rates peak earlier [3].  Thus, indigenous women suffer the dual oppressions of sex and politics not only from a social perspective, but also from a health perspective.


Source: Health Canada website and Media Photo Gallery, Health Canada, Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2006.


1. Health Canada. The Health of Aboriginal Women. Health Canada Fact sheet. March 1999.

2. Stout MD, Kipling GD, Stout R. Aboriginal women’s health research synthesis project - final report. Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health; 2001.

3. Szathmáry, EJE Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus among aboriginal North Americans. Annual Reviews of Anthropology. 1994; 23: 457-82.

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