There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 1 accounts for about 10 per cent of all diabetes. This type most often affects children and adolescents. Daily insulin injections are needed to survive, as the beta cells of the pancreas cannot make enough insulin.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for almost 90 per cent of diabetes. In Type 2, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body does not effectively use the insulin made (called insulin resistance).
Gestational diabetes affects two to four per cent of all pregnancies. It is a temporary condition brought on by pregnancy, but both mother and child face a higher risk of developing diabetes in the future.
Risk factors for developing diabetes include:
People with Type 2 diabetes often show no symptoms. Many are diagnosed years after the disease begins to affect them.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 150 million people worldwide have diabetes. By 2025 that figure will double to approximately 300 million.
At least 50 per cent of all people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. About 1.5 million Canadians have been diagnosed with diabetes, and likely another 750,000 are unaware of their condition.
Currently Type 2 diabetes occurs most often in developed countries. However, the number of people with diabetes is expected to rise in poorer developing countries. This increase is related to lifestyle changes as these countries become more modern, urban, and westernized.
Our population is aging; with age the occurrence of diabetes increases. Ten per cent of Canadians over the age of 65 have diabetes. Just being over age 45 is a risk factor for developing the disease.
Heredity plays a role, but in many people diabetes is fueled by lifestyle and surroundings. Many people are inactive and highly stressed. There is easy access to food. Not all of this food is healthy, especially fast foods high in fat, carbohydrates and sugars. More people are overweight. All of these factors contribute to the increased occurrence of diabetes.
Lifestyle habits are formed at an early age. Many parents work and have less time to prepare healthy foods. People rush home from work and use drive-through fast food restaurants with super-size portions to feed themselves and their children, before heading out to evening activities. Need we discuss those frequent hot dog lunches and vending machines?
Kids are less physically active now. Parents are reluctant to allow their children to run and play outside of the backyard. Over the past 20 years cuts have been made to school physical education programs. Some families cannot afford the costs associated with school sports teams or organized sports.
The lives of adults have also changed from previous generations. We are less active, thanks in part to modern conveniences.
So now we know why diabetes is on the rise. Let’s look at what we can do to prevent it.
Research has proven over and over again that changes to lifestyle can prevent or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes. Act now to reduce your chances of developing this disease.