Of the four million people with diabetes in the UK, 90% have a type that’s preventable. Simply making changes to your lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Explore this guide to find out if you’re at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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Learn more about diabetes

We give you information about what causes type 2 diabetes, and what risk factors you need to look out for. 

  • What is diabetes?

    You’ve probably heard of diabetes, but what exactly is it?

    The energy we use every day comes from glucose, a form of sugar. We get that glucose from the food and drinks we consume each day.

    In simple terms, diabetes is a condition where your blood contains too much glucose because your body doesn’t know how to use it properly. This can be due to your pancreas not producing any (or enough) insulin to help glucose enter your body’s cells. Or it could be because the insulin your body is producing isn’t working properly. 

  • Types of diabetes

    There are two types of diabetes.
    Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs because your body doesn't produce any insulin. This means it needs regular insulin treatment to keep your glucose levels normal. There’s no way to prevent type 1 diabetes and researchers don’t know exactly what causes it. But it may be due to your genetic makeup or be the result of a viral infection. 
    Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t have enough insulin, or when the insulin is there but isn’t doing its job. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. 

    Although type 2 more commonly affects people over 40, it’s becoming increasingly common among younger people. Even children are beginning to develop it. 
  • Are you at risk of developing diabetes?

    Anyone can develop diabetes. But there are factors that can make some people more susceptible to it than others.
    Your gender. You’re more at risk of developing diabetes if you’re a man. According to an NHS study, men are 34% more likely to have diabetes than women. 
    Your ethnicity. Ethnicity also plays a role. If you’re of South Asian, African-Caribbean or Black African descent, you’re two-to-four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
    Your family history. You have a higher chance of developing diabetes if someone in your family already has it. 
    Your body shape. If you have excess weight around your middle, your risk of developing diabetes is increased.
    While there are certain factors you can’t change, there’s plenty you can do to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Next steps

Look at our action plan to find out how you can make healthier lifestyle choices and reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.