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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: Accessed October 16, 2008.
2 US Census Bureau. World Population Clock Projection. Available at: Accessed October 16, 2008. Estimated world population is 6.8 billion.
3 International Diabetes Federation. Fact Sheet Diabetes and Obesity. Available at: 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.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when hormones interfere with the way insulin works in your body. This type of diabetes can effect women who have never had diabetes and usually goes away after the baby is born. In Canada gestational diabetes may affect as many as 3.7% of pregnant women and about 8-18% of Aboriginal women. It is recommended that all pregnant women are screened between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy.1

Women who have gestational diabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.. Your baby may also be at higher risk of childhood obesity.2 You can reduce these risks by maintaining a reasonable weight, staying physically active and making healthy food choices. Breast-feeding may lower your baby’s risk for type 2 diabetes as well. See your healthcare professional to create a management plan that is right for you and your baby.

1 Canadian Diabetes Association. Gestational diabetes: Preventing complications in pregnancy. Available at: Accessed March 12, 2009.
2 International Diabetes Federation. Who gets diabetes? Available at: Accessed November 12, 2008.

A condition in which women who did not have diabetes before pregnancy develop high blood glucose levels while pregnant. Gestational diabetes is generally tested at 24 to 28 weeks gestation. Blood glucose levels usually return to normal after delivery, but mothers with gestational diabetes may be at higher risk to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

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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 »

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