The year 2021 marks 100 years since Drs. Banting and Best first isolated insulin at the University of Toronto. The discovery soon changed the lives of people with diabetes worldwide. Several advances have been made since that groundbreaking finding.
Diabetes is a result of the body’s inability to properly metabolize sugar. Type 1 diabetes relates to insufficient or no insulin production, while type 2 diabetes relates to the body’s inability to respond to insulin and its reduced ability to produce it. There is no cure for diabetes, and if not well-managed, it can have serious short- and long-term health implications.
In Canada, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has been increasing for many years, partly due to the rising rate of obesity. Since 2000, the diabetes rate has increased by 70%. Indigenous peoples in Canada are at greater risk, with prevalence rates three to five times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
Diabetes is associated with a range of risk factors. Although, the cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet well understood, we do know that food choices, physical activity, age, sex and race or ethnicity are risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
Although Canada’s federal government implemented a diabetes strategy in 1999, it is unclear whether or to what extent the strategy has been active in recent years. In 2021, Parliament passed legislation to implement a new diabetes strategy.
Formerly, diabetics were half-starved invalids, unable to withstand the stress of ordinary life and easy victims to common infections, very often with disastrous results. The introduction of insulin into therapy has meant a complete revolution of their fate.
Hans Christian Hagedorn, January 1937
Read the full text of the HillStudy: 100 Years of Insulin – Diabetes in Canada
Author: Sonya Norris, Library of Parliament