What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that makes your pancreas unable to make enough insulin to meet the body's needs. Insulin regulates your body's glucose (sugar) levels. Without enough insulin, the glucose levels in your blood rises.

Diabetes is diagnosed when your blood glucose level is 7 or higher after not eating for at least 8 hours.

Why is diabetes a problem?

It is estimated that 1.5 million people suffer from diabetes in Canada and that by the year 2016 there will be another million people afflicted with this disease. We are facing an epidemic of diabetes. Incidence of the disease is increasing dramatically due to factors such as:

  • the aging baby boomer population
  • society is becoming increasingly obese and sedentary
  • peoples from Native Canadian, Chinese and South Asian populations have very high risk of developing the disease

Preventing diabetes means we may also prevent the serious health consequences of diabetes. Diabetes is the major cause of blindness, kidney failure and leg amputation worldwide. It is also a common cause of heart disease and stroke.

Who is at risk?

You are at risk if any of the following apply to you:

  • There is a history of diabetes in your family
  • You are of Native North American, Latin American, African, Asian or Hispanic descent
  • You have given birth to a baby that weighed over 9 lbs.
  • You had previous diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • You have had previous high or borderline blood sugar levels
  • Your blood pressure is high
  • You are overweight