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 developing type 2 diabetes later.
About 10% of Canadians with diabetes have type 1 and 90% have type 2. [PHAC 2011]
Diabetes is more common among adult men (11.8%) than women (10.0%), while in children and youth, the rates are the same for boys and girls.
While only 0.3% of diabetes cases are among Canadians between the ages of 1 to 19, 55% of the cases are among Canadians aged 65+.