Diabetes in Canada

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the body loses its ability to produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that controls sugar levels in the blood. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Other types are uncommon.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, leaving the individual dependent on an external source of insulin for life. It typically develops in children and youth, but it can also occur in adults.Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and/or when the body does not properly use the insulin produced. Individuals who are overweight or obese, physically inactive, or of certain ethnic origins, and those who have a family history of diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. It typically appears in adults older than 40 years, but it can also occur at a younger age.Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women, if high blood sugar levels develop during pregnancy. Although it usually disappears after the delivery, it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later.

It has been estimated that 90% of diabetes cases among Canadian adults are type 2, 9% type 1, and less than 1% of a different type,  while the large majority of diabetes cases among children and youth are type 1. Moreover, gestational diabetes is reported in about 5.5% of births.

How many Canadians live with diabetes?

According to the most recent data, about 3.0 million Canadians (8.1%) were living with diagnosed diabetes in 2013–2014, representing 1 in 300 children and youth (1–19 years), and 1 in 10 adults (20 years and older). The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes generally increases with age and is higher among males (8.7%) than among females (7.6%), both overall and in most age groups