Type 2 Diabetes

  • Medical Author:
    Erica Oberg, ND, MPH

    Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Type 2 Diabetes: Learn the Warning Signs

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It is a chronic disease in which blood sugar can no longer be regulated. There are two reasons for this. First, the cells of the body become resistant to insulin. Insulin works like a key to let glucose move out of the blood and into the cells where it is used as fuel for energy. When the cells become insulin resistant, it requires a lot of insulin to move the glucose into the cell, and too much of it stays in the blood. The other part type 2 diabetes is that, over time, the pancreas can't make enough insulin.

What is the difference between type 2 and type 1 diabetes?

  • In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar can be reduced with diet, exercise, and oral medications that either make the body more sensitive to insulin or help the pancreas release more insulin.
  • In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas cannot make any insulin and people have to depend on injections of insulin to lower blood sugar.
  • Over time, people with type 2 diabetes can also require insulin. This happens when the pancreas "wears out."

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetics and unhealthy lifestyle habits.

  • Some ethnic groups have a higher inherited incidence of type 2 diabetes. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific islanders are all at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Other causes of type 2 diabetes are unhealthy lifestyle habits including
    • eating too much sugar and carbohydrates,
    • not exercising enough, and
    • being under chronic high stress.

What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include

Other risk factors include

  • being sedentary (not exercising or being physically active),
  • watching more than 2 hours of TV per day.1
  • People who drink soda, either sugar-sweetened or diet, are at 26%-67% increased risk of type 2 diabetes.2, 3
  • Economic stress also is a risk factor. People who live in the lowest-income circumstances have two and a half times greater the risk of developing diabetes.4
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2015
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