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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes currently affects 246 million people worldwide and is expected to affect 380 million by 2025.¹ More than 2 million Canadians have diabetes. By the end of the decade, this number is expected to rise to 3 million. Even though diabetes affects nearly 4% of the world’s population², many people know very little about the disease.

There are 2 primary types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. As a result, the body makes very little or no insulin of its own. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.

  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the body cannot properly use the insulin it does produce. Initially, changes in diet and activity levels may control blood glucose levels. As type 2 diabetes progresses pills and/or insulin may be added to control blood glucose. Eventually, the pancreas may stop producing insulin altogether. Type 2 diabetes can affect people at any age. In both men and women, excess weight increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.³

1 International Diabetes Federation. Did you know? Available at: http://www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?node=264. Accessed October 16, 2008.
2 US Census Bureau. World Population Clock Projection. Available at: http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html. Accessed October 16, 2008. Estimated world population is 6.8 billion.
3 International Diabetes Federation. Fact Sheet Diabetes and Obesity. Available at: http://www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?node=1207. Accessed November 13, 2008.

 

A hormone produced in the beta cells in the pancreas. The body uses insulin to let glucose enter cells, where it is used for energy.

Now known as type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin or extremely small amounts. People with type 1 need to take insulin injections in order to live.

Now known as type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin or extremely small amounts. People with type 1 need to take insulin injections in order to live.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes - woman with apples

Type 2 diabetes represents more than 90% of all diabetes cases.1 In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas may make enough insulin, but the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. This is known as insulin resistance. Eventually, the pancreas may stop producing insulin altogether.

Type 2 diabetes traditionally affects people later in life, but can affect people at any age. Additional risk factors or characteristics for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Prediabetes (when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but you do not have diabetes)
  • Race/Ethnicity such as people of Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian or African descent.3

Because type 2 diabetes develops slowly and is often hard to detect, many people are not diagnosed until various complications appear. One-third of all people with diabetes may be undiagnosed.2

Depending on its severity, type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet and physical activity alone, oral medications, or insulin injections, though a combination of these therapies are ideal for most cases. Self-monitoring of your blood glucose can help you understand how your food, activity, illness, stress and medications affect your blood glucose.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet, 2007. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/pdf/ndfs_2007.pdf. Accessed October 16, 2008.
2 American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes—2008 [position statement]. Diabetes Care. 2007; 31:S/12-S54. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/31/Supplement_1/S12 (accessed January 24, 2008).
3 International Diabetes Federation. Who gets diabetes? Available at: http://www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?unode=3B96880C-C026-2FD3-87046988B851BC00. Accessed November 12, 2008.

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Hypoglycemia and Exercise
Physical activity or exercising for a prolonged period can lower blood glucose, but there are several measures you can take to treat it.

Learn more »

Managing Diabetes For Kids
Basic information for families who have children living with type 1 diabetes.

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