Diabetes

Of the four million people with diabetes in the UK, 90% have a type that’s preventable – type 2. Learn how you can reduce your risk.

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Learn more about diabetes

Did you know, around three in five cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes? In this guide to diabetes, we provide you with information about type 2 diabetes, risk factors for it, and the changes you can make to reduce your risk.

  • 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.