Myth or Medicine
Second Opinion 5
Type 1 diabetes usually is first diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that may be caused by genetic, environmental, or other factors. It accounts for about 5% of diabetes cases. There is no known way to prevent it, and effective treatment requires the use of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90%–95% of diabetes cases and is usually associated with older age, obesity and physical inactivity, family history of type 2 diabetes, or a personal history of gestational diabetes. Diabetes rates vary by race and ethnicity, with American Indian, Alaska Native, African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander adults about twice as likely as white adults to have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through healthy food choices, physical activity, and weight loss. It can be controlled with these same activities, but insulin or oral medication also may be necessary.
Gestational diabetes is a form of glucose intolerance that is diagnosed during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs more often in African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian women, as well as in women who are obese or have a family history of type 2 diabetes. It requires treatment to bring maternal blood glucose to normal levels and avoid complications in the infant.
Other types of diabetes result from specific genetic conditions (such as maturity-onset diabetes of youth), surgery, medications, infections, pancreatic disease, and other illnesses. Other types of diabetes account for less than 5% of all diagnosed cases.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
People with prediabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Their blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. An estimated 79 million U.S. adults had prediabetes in 2010. Group support programs that help people with prediabetes develop better eating habits, improve their coping skills, and increase their physical activity level have been proven to be effective.
People with prediabetes who lose 5%–7% of body weight and get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%.
Disability and premature death are not inevitable consequences of diabetes. Physical activity and dietary interventions, self-management training, ongoing support, and, when necessary, medications can help control the effects of diabetes. By working with a support network and health care providers, a person with diabetes can prevent premature death and disability.
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