Diabetes in Canada: prevalence, impact and future outlook

In Canada, diabetes is a growing health concern. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, over 3 million Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes – and this number is only expected to grow in the years ahead. So what is diabetes, and why is it such a big problem in Canada? And what does the future hold for people living with diabetes in our country? Let us take a look:

What is diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes – Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes, also known as juvenile onset or insulin-dependent diabetes, usually develops in childhood or adolescence. In this form of the disease, the body does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. As a result, people with Type I diabetes must take daily insulin injections to survive.

Type II diabetes, on the other hand, typically develops later in life and is often associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. In this form of the disease, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not respond properly to insulin (a condition known as “insulin resistance”). While people with Type II diabetes can often control their condition with diet and exercise, some will also need to take oral medication or insulin injections.

How prevalent is diabetes in Canada?

According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, the prevalence of diabetes in Canada has been on the rise in recent years. In 2021, an estimated 11.0% of Canadians aged 20 or older – that’s about three million people – reported having diabetes. This is up from about eight percent in 2015. And when you look at specific age groups, the numbers are even higher: nearly one in four adults aged 65 or over (23.0%) reported having diabetes in 2015.

What are the consequences of diabetes?

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to a number of serious health complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation. Diabetes is also a leading cause of death in Canada: according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, it was responsible for an estimated 16,000 deaths in 2015.

What does the future hold?

The good news is that diabetes can be managed and its complications prevented or delayed with proper treatment. But with the prevalence of diabetes on the rise in Canada, it’s important to be aware of your risk factors and to take steps to prevent the disease. If you have diabetes, it’s also important to monitor your health closely and to work with your healthcare team to manage your condition.

Looking ahead, we need to do more as a society to promote healthy living and reduce the incidence of diabetes. This includes making healthy food choices and being active every day. We also need to raise awareness about the diabetes!


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