Diabetes mellitus is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Glucose comes from the digestion of carbohydrate containing food and drinks and is also produced by the liver. Carbohydrate comes from many different sources including starchy foods such as bread, potatoes and chapattis, fruit, dairy products, sugar and other sweet foods.

Insulin is vital for life. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas and helps the glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives.

Diabetes types

There are two main types of diabetes. These are:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. This type of diabetes usually appears before the age of 40. Type 1 diabetes is the least common of the two main types and accounts for between 5 and 15 per cent of all people with diabetes. You cannot prevent Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). In most cases this is linked with being overweight. This type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, though in South Asian and African-Caribbean people often appears after the age of 25. However, recently, more children are being diagnosed with the condition, some as young as seven. Type 2 diabetes is the most common of the two main types and accounts for between 85 and 95 per cent of all people with diabetes.

There are currently over 2.5 million people with diabetes in the UK and there are more than half a million people with diabetes who have the condition and don’t know it.

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