Diabetes (Type 2)

Diabetes (Type 2)

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.

There are two main types of diabetes – type I and type 2. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body's cells don't react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn't produce any insulin at all. In the UK, about 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.

Type 1 diabetes usually develops before the age of 40 – often in the teenage years, while type 2 diabetes tends to be diagnosed in older people.

  • There are 3.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK. That's more than one in 16 people in the UK who has diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed).

This figure has more than doubled since 1996, when there were 1.4 million. By 2025, it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes in the UK.

Many more people have blood glucose (sugar) levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. This is sometimes known as "pre-diabetes", and if you have it you have a greater risk of developing full-blown diabetes.

It's very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible, because it will get progressively worse if left untreated.

Diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems. It's the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness in people of working age. It's also responsible for most cases of kidney failure and lower limb amputation (other than accidents).

People with diabetes are up to five times more likely to have cardiovascular disease and stroke than those without diabetes.

The rapid rise in the number of adults developing type 2 diabetes is due to:

  • increasing levels of obesity
  • a lack of exercise
  • increase in unhealthy diets
  • an ageing population

Even if you feel healthy, you may have a higher than normal blood glucose level (pre-diabetes) and be at risk of getting the condition.

It is therefore important to take preventative measures by making any necessary lifestyle changes, such as eating more healthily, losing weight (if you're overweight) and becoming more physically active.

(NHS Choices, 2015)


Diabetes UK - 15 healthcare essentials

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Physical inactivity is estimated to be the main cause of 27% of recorded cases of type 2 diabetes worldwide
BHF National Centre Evidence Briefing: Making the case for physical activity, 2013

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    Diabetes UK - 15 healthcare essentials

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