Diabetes in Canada: Highlights from the National Diabetes Surveillance System, 2004-2005


  • Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes develops when the body's immune system destroys the cells which make insulin. Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, in which the body's cells are unable to use insulin properly, and is followed, in time, with a declining ability to produce insulin. This results in high blood sugar levels that interfere with normal functioning of the body, and is associated with many other health problems such as kidney failure, blindness, heart disease and stroke, as well as vascular and peripheral nerve problems which could lead to amputation.
  • Another type of diabetes, known as gestational diabetes, may occur during pregnancy. While this type of diabetes usually disappears with the birth of the baby, these women do have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • The risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be reduced by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular physical activity.
  • Treatment for diabetes depends on the type of diagnosis (type 1, type 2 or gestational) and can include diet modification and/or medications, including insulin. In addition, regular physical activity helps to maintain healthy weight, an important factor for effective management of diabetes. Self-management of diabetes is an essential part of overall care. This includes regular screening for complications and early treatment to prevent complications.
  • Most newly diagnosed diabetes cases among adults are type 2, while the majority of cases among children are type 1. This difference should be considered when interpreting the statistics for all age groups.
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