Aims/hypothesis: We aimed to assess the risk factors for diabetes mellitus, by age and sex in Canada and to recommend prevention and control strategies.
Methods: This study was based on the Canadian 1996-1997 National Population Health Survey which comprised 69 494 participants aged 12 years and over. The prevalence of diabetes mellitus was analysed in relation to age, sex, body mass index, overweight status, energy expenditure, physical activity, smoking, drinking, income, marital status, education and rural or urban residence.
Results: The prevalence of diabetes increased with age and body mass index and increased inversely with energy expenditure in both males and females. Current and former smokers were associated with a higher prevalence of diabetes. No effect was observed in regular or former drinkers. Prevalence of diabetes increased inversely with income, especially among women. Women who were single and 35 to 64 years old had a higher prevalence of diabetes than women of the same age who were married. The prevalence of diabetes was not found to be related to the level of education. Urban or rural residence was not found to have an effect on the prevalence of diabetes.
Conclusion/interpretation: Women and men of all ages should avoid becoming overweight, by maintaining their body mass index below 25 kg/m(2) and 27 kg/m(2), respectively. They should maintain a moderate level of physical activity. Patients with diabetes should give up smoking completely. Diabetes prevention and control strategies should be targeted for women in low income groups.