Diabetes 2008

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Diabetes is a disease where the body does not produce enough insulin, or when usage of the insulin that is produced is not effective. Diabetes may lead to reduced quality of life as well as complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

In 2008, 5.9% of Canadians aged 12 or older reported that they had diabetes. This was about the same rate as in 2007, but a significant increase from 4.9% in 2005. Survey respondents were asked to report diabetes that had been diagnosed by a doctor, so Type I (usually diagnosed in children and adolescents), Type II (usually develops in adulthood) and gestational diabetes (occurs during pregnancy) were all included in these rates.

Chart 1


Chart 1: Percentage reporting diabetes, by sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2001 to 2008

Through the period from 2001 to 2008, men were more likely than women to report that they had diabetes.

Diabetes rates increase with age. In 2008, the percentage with diabetes rose from 0.3% at ages 12-to-19, to 16.0% for seniors (65 or older).

At ages 20 to 34, women were more likely than men to have diabetes (1.1% versus 0.6%). Differences between the sexes were not significant from ages 35 to 54, but by age 55 men were more likely than women to be diabetic.

Chart 2


Chart 2: Percentage reporting diabetes, by age group and sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2008

Since 2001, rural residents have consistently reported higher diabetes rates than those reported by urban residents. In 2008, 6.4% of Canadians living in rural areas had been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with 5.8% of those in urban areas.

Newfoundland and Labrador (8.8%), Nova Scotia (7.4%), and New Brunswick (7.8%) reported diabetes rates higher than the national average. Rates in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan were about the same as Canada's average. People in the other provinces and territories reported diabetes rates lower than the rate for Canada as a whole.

Because diabetes is strongly related to age, provinces and territories with a disproportionately large number of younger people would be expected to have lower rates than the national average. The reverse would be true for provinces and territories with higher than average percentages of older residents. To remove the effect of different age distributions, the diabetes rates were recalculated as if the age groups in each province and territory were the same as the national age distribution. When this was done, only Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick had diabetes rates that were higher than the rate for Canada, and only British Columbia and Yukon had rates that were lower.


Additional information from the Canadian Community Health Survey is available from CANSIM table 105-0501.


The health of Canadians with diabetes. James R, Young TK, Mustard CA, et al. 1998; 9(3): 47-52.
Tracking diabetes: Prevalence, incidence and risk factors. Millar WJ, Young TK. 2003; 14(3): 35-47.

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