Saskatchewan natives are experiencing an epidemic of diabetes and are far more likely than non-aboriginal people to suffer life-threatening complications from the disease, says a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The report says the province’s First Nations people are 16 times more likely than non-natives to develop kidney failure from diabetes. Native diabetics are also seven times more likely to get a condition called end-stage kidney failure, which requires treatment by dialysis or transplant.

Diabetes was unknown among aboriginal peoples in Canada early in the century. The study’s author says that it has spread because of the adoption of a European-type lifestyle and diet. The incidence of diabetes is higher among people who are obese.