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Prevalence of diabetes in Ontario exceeds global rate projected for 2030


A new  study from the Institute for Clinical Evaluatiive Sciences (ICES) shows that the prevalence of diabetes in Ontario rose to nearly nine per cent by 2005, which has already surpassed the global rate of 6.4% that is predicted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to occur by 2030.

“We’ve found that the rising number of new cases of diabetes, coupled with declining mortality rates due to people living longer with the disease, have led to steady increases in the overall prevalence of diabetes in Ontario,” said Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe, ICES research fellow and lead author of the study.

In their study, ICES Scientists tracked all Ontario adults aged 20 years and older in order to examine trends in diabetes prevalence (the number of both new and existing cases) and mortality between 1995 and 2005, and trends in incidence (the number of new cases only) from 1997 to 2003.

The results showed that:

  • Diabetes prevalence has increased 69%, from 5.2% in 1995 to 8.8% in 2005.
  • Although prevalence rates have remained higher among persons aged 50 years and older compared to persons aged 20 to 49 years, rates increased to a greater extent in the younger population (94% for those 20 to 49 years vs. 63% for those aged 50 and older).
  • There was a 31% increase in annual incidence, from 6.6 per 1,000 persons in 1997 to 8.2 per 1,000 persons in 2003.
  • The mortality rate among persons with diabetes declined by 25% between 1995 and 2005.

“Given this linear growth in the prevalence of diabetes, more than ten per cent of the adult population of Ontario will be diagnosed with diabetes before 2010,” said Dr. Lipscombe.

“If similar trends are occurring throughout the developed world, then the magnitude of the emerging diabetes epidemic is far greater than we anticipated.”

Dr. Lipscombe stresses that the study’s results are important for policy makers to adequately prepare for the rising burden of diabetes on healthcare resources.

“One important cause of this dramatic growth in diabetes may be the rising rates of obesity, especially in the under 50 population, and accordingly, effective public health interventions to manage and prevent obesity are greatly needed,” said Dr. Lipscombe.

“Future research should also focus on the identification of high-risk sociodemographic groups for whom specific interventions may be required.”

The study, “Trends in diabetes prevalence, incidence and mortality in Ontario, Canada 1995-2005: a population-based study”, is in the March 3, 2007 issue of The Lancet.

Author affiliations: ICES (all authors); Department of Medicine, University of Toronto (all authors); Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Dr. Hux); Women’s College Hospital (Dr. Lipscombe).

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare 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.


  • Julie Dowdie
  • Media Relations Officer, ICES
  • (416) 480-4780 or cell (416) 432-8143


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