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Diabetes cases in Canada to increase by almost 2 million by 2017 - Study

​June 16, 2010 – New research shows nearly nine out of every 100 Canadians will be diagnosed with diabetes over 10 years, which will lead to nearly two million new diabetes cases in Canada by 2017. The study also predicts more cases of diabetes will develop in Canadians who are overweight versus obese.

This investigative report was led by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) with support from Public Health Ontario (PHO), Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), Population Health Improvement Research Network (PHIRN) and Statistics Canada.

The study uses a new and innovative research method to predict new cases of diabetes in Canada, including tools to identify segments of the population who are most likely to generate the majority of cases.

“Diabetes has been described as one of the most significant threats to the health of people in developed countries, but there are no estimates of Canada’s future diabetes burden that explicitly consider obesity and other diabetes risk factors,” says Doug Manuel, principal investigator of the study and Adjunct Scientist at ICES. “Calculating how many people can be expected to develop diabetes will help us refine our picture of the diabetes ‘epidemic’ and determine the best prevention strategy,” says Manuel, who is also a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa.

An important component to diabetes prevention strategies is weight control. Using Ontario as an example, researchers found that if Canadians lowered their weight by 3.3 per cent, they would be able to prevent 10 per cent of new diabetes cases.

“This study demonstrates how innovative population-based approaches to estimating future disease burdens can help policymakers improve the success of prevention strategies by targeting segments of our population who are most at risk,” said Laura Rosella, who began work on this research project at ICES and is now a postdoctoral fellow with PHO. “As a leader in public health, PHO can use these approaches to support Ontario’s public health efforts to prevent diabetes.”

The study found:

  • 1.9 million Canadians are predicted to develop diabetes between 2007 and 2017.
  • In 2007, the 10-year risk of diabetes was lowest in Quebec, British Columbia and urban regions.
  • In total, 712,000 cases are predicted to develop in people who are overweight, defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25–30, compared to 247,000 cases for people who are very obese (BMI>35).
  • Individuals who are obese have the highest individual diabetes risk, but Canadians who are overweight bear the greatest population risk.

Public Health Ontario (PHO) is a Crown Corporation dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of all Ontarians and reducing inequities in health. As a hub organization, PHO links public health practitioners, front-line health workers and researchers to the best scientific intelligence and knowledge from around the world. For more information, please visit

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the University’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The OHRI includes more than 1,500 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

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