Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, representing 90-95% of people with diabetes. It was previously known as adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes because it most often occurs after age 40. However, a recent trend has emerged in which type 2 diabetes in being diagnosed in children, adolescents and young adults. Currently, studies are underway to better define the populations at highest risk for this form of diabetes, so that preventative measures may be taken and appropriate behavioral and medical therapies may be developed.
The Path Toward Type 2 Diabetes
In adults, one of the greatest risk factors for type 2 diabetes is excess weight. The same is likely true for children with diabetes. As an individual gains weight, the extra weight causes the cells of the body to become resistant to the effects of insulin. The pancreas responds by producing more and more insulin, which eventually begins to build up in the blood. High levels of insulin in the blood, a condition called insulin resistance, may cause problems such as high blood pressure and harmful changes in the levels of different fats (cholesterol) in the blood. Insulin resistance, is the first step on the path to type 2 diabetes.
The second step to type 2 diabetes is a condition called impaired glucose tolerance. Impaired glucose tolerance occurs when the pancreas becomes exhausted and can no longer produce enough insulin to move glucose out of the bloodstream into cells. Glucose begins to build up in the blood. If it is not diagnosed and not treated, this gradual rise in glucose often leads to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease–in any order and in any combination.
While all these harmful activities are going on inside the body, the affected individual may feel perfectly fine. Type 2 diabetes is considered a silent disease because it works its destruction over many years without causing any noticeable symptoms. That’s why half of the people who have type 2 diabetes don’t know it. You or someone you love could have diabetes.
Preventing and Managing Type 2 Diabetes
The best way to help prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes is to adopt and follow a healthy lifestyle, which is recommended for everyone.
Components of Healthy Living for Type 2 Diabetes Management and Prevention
- Well-balanced diet
- Weight management
- Regular physical activity
- Blood glucose monitoring and management
- Medications, if prescribed
- Avoidance of tobacco use
- Stress Management
- Moderate (in adults) or no alcohol comsumption
Reprinted with permission from the New York State Department of Health Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Diabetes Translation.