What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
The most common is type 2 diabetes, usually in adults, which occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. In the past three decades the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in countries of all income levels.
Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin by itself.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin 3. The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known and it is not preventable with current knowledge.
Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin 3. Type 2 diabetes comprises the majority of people with diabetes around the world 3, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.
Symptoms may be similar to those of Type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen.
Until recently, this type of diabetes was seen only in adults but it is now also occurring increasingly frequently in children.
How can the burden of diabetes be reduced?
Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:
- achieve and maintain healthy body weight;
- be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control;
- eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats intake; and
- avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.