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Diabetes is a common condition being diagnosed. Statistics have shown that approximately 4-9% of the total Chinese population is diagnosed with diabetes. Of those diagnosed approximately 90-95% has Type II diabetes. Therefore, this section will focus mainly on Type II diabetes.

The risk of developing diabetes is influenced by your environment and lifestyle habits (including stress). For example, if you live in an urban city, have a busy lifestyle, do not exercise, are very stressed at work and have a diet high in fat and/or sugar, the chances of developing diabetes is significantly greater than someone who walks or exercises often, eats lots of fruit and vegetables and takes time to relax.

Being diagnosed with diabetes can be scary. However, through proper treatment and self-management, you can prevent and minimize complications. This website is meant to provide you with reliable information on diabetes, risk factors, and treatment options to help you understand what diabetes is and how you can manage living with the condition.

Introduction to Diabetes

Dr. Thomas Ho, Kent Ling (pharmacist), Laura Ng (registered nurse) and Jo Jo Wang (dietician) discuss some basic information about chronic disease and diabetes. The panelists answer questions about diagnosis, lifestyle management and self-monitoring, and how to use community resources and supports.  This presentation is part of the intercultural Online Health Network (iCON) forum on October 13, 2018 in Richmond, BC. Delivered in Cantonese with English interpretation.

Diabetes and Insulin

To fully understand diabetes risk factors and treatment options, it is important to first understand what the pancreas is and how it is related to diabetes.

The pancreas is a flattened gland located deep in the abdominal cavity. It is a vital part of the digestive system and plays an important role in regulating the blood sugar level. It is made up of tens of thousands of different types of cells. One type of cells, B cells, is responsible for the secretion of insulin; a protein hormone which regulates blood sugar levels by playing an important role of promoting carbohydrate (starch) metabolism Normal insulin secretion is continuous, and its secretion is closely related to meal time. Blood sugar increases significantly 2 hours after meals, insulin secretion also increases to prevent excessive blood sugar. About 2 hours after a meal, blood sugar will slowly drop to the level before the meal and insulin will also slowly start to decline. If this regulatory mechanism is disrupted or not working properly, diabetes will appear.

Types of Diabetes and Risk Factors

1. Type I: Mostly affects children and young adults

  • Genetic factors
  • An autoimmune disease causing the destruction of B cells
  • Inability of the Pancreas to produce insulin 

2. Type II risk factors: Mostly affects adults

  • Genetic factors
  • Decreased production of insulin
  • Age: as you age your body is more resistant to insulin’s affects
  • Being overweight
  • Eating too much sugar
  • Lack of exercise

3. Gestational diabetes mellitus

Women who are pregnant have an increased risk for developing type II diabetes, due to an hormonal imbalance. Often once women have given birth, they recover and are free from diabetes. However, there is always the possibility of relapse. 

4. Other illness that cause Diabetes:

  • Long-term pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic resection
  • Endocrine imbalance
  • Obesity
  • Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)
  • Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG)


VideoWhat is diabetes? (22:38 min)
Dr. Thomas Ho discusses some basic information about diabetes. This includes the histopathology, the different types, the symptom, the risk factors, how it is diagnosed, complications, and how to prevent diabetes. This presentation is part of the intercultural Online Health Network (iCON) forum on December 4, 2010 in Vancouver, BC. Delivered in Cantonese with Mandarin interpretation.

VideoDiabetes, New Hope (23:22 min)
Chinese Diabetes Forum 2013: What is Diabetes? Dr. C.P. Lau explains the basis of diabetes, the changes to diabetes trends and introduces new diabetes treatment currently being researched. Part of the “Prevention and Management of Diabetes: From Lifestyle to Technology Enable Strategies” Chinese forum. Delivered in Cantonese with Mandarin interpretation.


Image source - Blausen.com staff