Type 2 Diabetes (cont.)

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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?

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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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