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Get the Facts on Diabetes

Get the Facts on Diabetes

Did you know that more than 2 million Canadians have diabetes and by the end of the decade, this number is expected to rise to 3 million?[1] In fact, in 2000, the World Health Organization estimated that globally over 177 million people had diabetes, and that by 2025, this figure will top 300 million![1]


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There are 3 main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes which occurs most often in children and adolescents and occurs when the body is unable to make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that ensures your body can deal with blood sugar properly.
  • Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common type when your body does not make enough insulin or your body does not use the insulin properly. As a result sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used by the body for energy.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs temporarily during pregnancy.

If diabetes is not diagnosed or treated properly it puts a tremendous amount of strain on the body and can cause serious complications including heart disease, kidney failure, eye disease, erectile dysfunction, and damage to your nervous system1.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?1

Some people who have type 2 diabetes may have no symptoms at all which is why regular annual check-ups by your doctor are important. Some of the common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Unusual thirst and frequent urination
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision and numbness in the hands/feet
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Diabetes?1

Anyone can develop diabetes. However, if you fall into any of the groups below, then your risk of developing diabetes is generally greater:

  • Member of a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent).
  • Overweight (especially excess weight in the midsection).
  • A parent, brother or sister with diabetes.
  • Given birth to a baby that weighed more than 4 kg (9 lb) or had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose (these are terms your doctor may use when your blood sugar levels are above normal but below the level that is diagnostic for diabetes).
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol or other fats in the blood.
  • Have health complications or conditions that are associated with diabetes.

Prevention is the Key!

By managing a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, and getting enough physical activity you can significantly reduce your chances of developing diabetes and even delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.1

How is Diabetes Treated?

The good news is that even with diabetes you can live a long, healthy, normal life by managing your blood sugars well and ensuring you take care of 3 things:

1. Eat Well

The most important thing to remember when planning nutrition to manage healthy blood sugars is to eat small more frequent meals/snacks throughout the day so you are giving your body small amounts of food it can handle. For a full meal planning resource called “Beyond the Basics” by the Canadian Diabetes Association please visit

2. Be Active

Increasing physical activity is one of the best ways to lower your blood sugar if you have type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, spread over at least 3 nonconsecutive days. The goal is to build up to 4 or more hours of exercise per week.2 For more information on exercise please visit or our article Fitness – Get Activated.

3. Take Prescribed Medications

Type 1 diabetes requires daily injections of insulin.1 Type 2 diabetes is controlled through exercise and meal planning but may require medications and/or insulin to assist the body in making or using insulin more effectively. It is critical you follow the instructions for medications provided by your doctor.

Looking for more information?

Canadian Diabetes Association

American Diabetes Association

International Diabetes Federation

Type 2 Diabetes 


Canadian Diabetes Association

Canadian Journal of Diabetes. Canadian Diabetes Association 2003 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. 2003 volume 27, supplement 2.