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Diabetes was discussed on each of the shows. It is a major concern for everyone. Prevention begins with understanding just how serious this problem is becoming.

Video Highlights of Diabetes Information

Watch a half-hour of video footage of diabetes information and discussions from the TV series: 
Watch video clip here >>




What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that stems from the body's inability to sufficiently produce and/or properly use insulin which the body needs to use sugar as an energy source. Diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death but those who have diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risk of complications.

There are three main types of diabetes as follows:

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system and no longer produce insulin which the body needs in adequate supply to help it function. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes; it usually develops in childhood or adolescence. Five to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not make enough insulin and/or does not respond well to the insulin it makes. About 90% to 95% of people with diabetes have type 2. People are typically diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after the age of 40, although it is now also being seen in children and adolescents. This type of diabetes is associated with excess body weight, and in most people, is preventable by following a healthy meal plan, getting regular exercise, and maintaining healthy weight.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops in women during pregnancy and disappears after delivery. Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women and increases the risk of both the mother and the child developing type 2 diabetes.


Pre-diabetes is a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It is a risk condition where blood glucose levels are elevated, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Pre-diabetes is diagnosed by measuring impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance. Impaired fasting glucose pre-diabetes is associated with fasting blood glucose levels from 6.1 to 6.9mmol/L; impaired glucose tolerance is where blood glucose levels range from 7.8 to 11mmol/L after a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test. In Canada, it is estimated that 4 million people between the ages of 40 and 74 have impaired fasting glucose and 1.8 million have impaired glucose tolerance.

Risk Factors

Several factors contribute to a person's risk of developing diabetes. Scientists do not know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, but they believe that both genetic factors and exposure to viruses are involved.

Risk factors that contribute to developing type 2 diabetes include:

* being overweight or obese;
* pre-diabetes;
* advanced age;
* physical inactivity;
* having high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol;
* having a family history of diabetes;
* belonging to certain high-risk ethnic populations (e.g. Aboriginal, African, Hispanic, Asian);
* having a history of gestational diabetes; and
* having other conditions which may include vascular disease, polycycstic ovary syndrome, acanthosis nigricans and schizophrenia

Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Early diagnosis of diabetes is extremely important. The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the sooner a person can take steps to manage it well and prevent or delay any complications.

Anyone who has any of these signs and symptoms should visit a healthcare provider. The healthcare provider will decide if a test that will diagnose diabetes is warranted. Symptoms can include:

* unusual thirst;
* frequent urination;
* weight change (gain or loss);
* extreme fatigue or lack of energy;
* blurred vision;
* frequent or recurring infections;
* cuts and bruises that are slow to heal;
* tingling or numbness in the hands or feet; and
* trouble getting or maintaining an erection.

In some cases, a person can have diabetes but not have any signs and symptoms. Regular check-ups with a health care provider are an important factor in preventing or managing diabetes.

The original source of this text can be found at the Public Health Agency of Canada, Chronic Diseases > Diabetes