Diabetes or prediabetes currently affects 1 in 3 Canadians.

By focusing our attention on our 4 pillars of support – diabetes awareness, prevention, care and research – we aim to build healthier communities across Canada as we beat this disease.

The statistics are sobering. 

Diabetes is a growing global epidemic, with an estimated 592 million people worldwide expected to have diabetes by 2035.2 In Canada, a full one-third of people who have diabetes don’t even know it.2 Raising awareness and educating the public and those at risk are the first steps in combating this disease. 

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. Or the body is unable to use the insulin it does produce. Without insulin, our bodies do not function. Diabetes leads to a range of related complications and is a leading cause of blindness, nerve damage, cardiovascular disease and stroke.1

Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and adolescents and is characterized by a loss of cells that produce insulin pancreatic β-cells (beta cells). Type 2 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in adulthood, occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin and the body cannot effectively use the insulin it does produce.1 Both types of diabetes are treated with diet and exercise. Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin injections, which are also used by patients in the later stages of type 2 diabetes. 

Cost of diabetes

Diabetes currently costs Canada’s healthcare system $12.2 billion annually.3 It is expected that this cost will rise to $16.9 billion a year by 2020.3 Given rising health benefit costs and our goal of helping build healthier communities, we feel generating awareness of this disease is very important in beating it.

More information about diabetes awareness:

Our lifestyle puts us at risk. Over 90% of Canadians don’t know the factors that put them at risk for type 2 diabetes.4 There are 4 simple factors to keep in mind – being overweight, high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels and a family history of the disease. However, lifestyle choices including inactivity, smoking and poor eating habits can also contribute to your risk for diabetes. 

Did you know that a weight loss of just 5-10% of initial body weight has been shown to delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes?1 And that it is estimated that 50% of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed with a healthier lifestyle,1 specifically healthier eating habits and increased physical activity? 

Take action. Exercise more. Eat healthy. 

More information about diabetes prevention:

Managing diabetes is very important, as uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage the vessels that supply blood to important organs such as the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Our research shows that almost 70% of Canadians can’t identify the major health complications associated with diabetes,5 namely, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and depression. With proper management, these complications can potentially be prevented. Has your doctor told you or a family member that you have diabetes? How do you manage the disease?

More information about diabetes care:

While insulin lets people live with diabetes, it isn’t a cure. As the numbers of people living with diabetes continue to grow, it is tremendously important to invest in research to find that cure. 

Through national and regional partnerships, we support research aimed at diabetes prevention and the development of innovative diabetes healthcare. 

In addition, the Sun Life Barometer, published annually by Sun Life, measures the attitudes of Canadians towards healthy lifestyles, and reports these in the form of an index. The index has shown the impact diabetes has in various regions across the country over the past few years.  

More information about diabetes research: