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Diabetes in Canada Published: ()

Diabetes is a common chronic condition that affects Canadians of all ages. It occurs when the body loses its ability to produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that controls sugar levels in the blood. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. If left uncontrolled, diabetes results in high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious complications. Fortunately, it is possible to remain healthy with diabetes, so long as it is well managed.

What are the different types of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when cells responsible for the production of insulin, found in the pancreas, are destroyed by the body's immune system. This is why this type of diabetes is called an "autoimmune" disease. In order to function, a person whose pancreas isn’t producing any insulin or very little must rely on daily medication – the intake of insulin – to regulate their blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes typically develops in children and youth, but can also occur in adults.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form. It happens when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body cannot properly use the insulin the pancreas produces. The risk of developing this metabolic disorder is higher in certain ethnic populations and people who are physically inactive, overweight, or obese. Type 2 diabetes usually affects adults over the age of 40, but can be found in children and youth.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs only in pregnant women, when high blood sugar levels develop during pregnancy. Although it is temporary and usually disappears weeks after delivery, women who have it are at greater risk of getting type 2 diabetes later.

The Public Health Agency of Canada works with all provinces and territories, through the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System, to collect and report national surveillance data on diabetes, type 1 and type 2 combined.

How many Canadians live with diabetes?

1 in 10

About 10% of Canadian adults aged 20+ live with diagnosed diabetes. [PHAC CDIIF 2016]

1 in 333

About 0.3% of Canadian children and youth aged 1-19 live with diagnosed diabetes. [PHAC CDIIF 2016]

1 in 18

Gestational diabetes occurs in about 5.5% of women who give birth. [PHAC CPSS 2014]


On average, 550 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each day in Canada. [CCDSS Open Data]

Profile of diabetes in Canada

Type 1 vs type 2

About 10% of Canadians with diabetes have type 1 and 90% have type 2. [PHAC 2011]

Males vs females

Diabetes is more common among adult men (10.5%) than women (9.1%), while in children and youth, the rates are the same for boys and girls. [PHAC CDIIF 2016]

Young vs old

While only 1% of diabetes cases are among Canadians between the ages of 1 to 19, 50% of the cases are among Canadians aged 65+. [CCDSS Open Data]

Time trends: going up or down?

16% ↑

The prevalence of Canadian adults living with diagnosed diabetes went up by almost 16% between 2006 and 2011, from 8.3% to 9.6%. Numbers are expected to continue rising due to an aging Canadian population and the fact that Canadians are living longer with diabetes.  [PHAC CDIIF 2016]

13% ↓

The incidence of newly diagnosed diabetes in Canadian adults dropped by 13% between 2006 and 2011 (964 to 838 per 100,000). This is an interesting shift from a previous upward trend between 2000 and 2006. [PHAC CDIIF 2016]

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