Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the metabolism of sugar (glucose), an important source of fuel for the body.
In type 2 diabetes, your body resists the effects of insulin (the hormone that controls the movement of sugar in cells) or does not produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes was previously known as adult diabetes, but more children were recently diagnosed with this condition, probably due to an increase in childhood obesity. Losing weight, eating well and exercising can control the disease. If your diet and exercise are not enough to properly control your blood sugar level, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
If healthy, the pancreas (the organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help the body store and use sugar from the food you eat. Diabetes occurs when one or more of the following occurs:
- Your pancreas doesn’t make any insulin.
- Your pancreas makes very little insulin.
- Your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin
- Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin. However, the insulin secreted by the pancreas is not enough or the body does not recognize it and cannot use it properly (doctors call this insulin resistance).
If there is not enough insulin, or if insulin is not used properly, glucose (sugar) cannot enter the cells. Instead, they accumulate in the bloodstream. This can damage many parts of the body. The cells don’t get the glucose they need, so they don’t work as they should.
Main Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
Following are the main factors that may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes include:
- Weight. Obesity is an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes, but it is not necessary to be overweight to develop type 2 diabetes.
- Fat distribution.The storage of fat mainly in the abdomen increases the risk of type 2 diabetes compared to the storage of fat in the hips and thighs. If you are a man with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches (101.6 cm) or a woman with a waist of more than 35 inches (88.9 cm), you have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Inactivity. The lower the amount of exercise, the greater the risk of type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses glucose as energy and makes cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Family history. If your parents, brother or sister has type 2 diabetes, your risk of type 2 diabetes increases.
- Age. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, especially after age 45. This is probably because people tend to lose exercise, lose muscle mass and get older. However, type 2 diabetes also increases dramatically in children, adolescents and young adults.
- Pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Untreated pre-diabetes often progresses to type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The birth of a baby weighing more than 4 kg also carries the risk of type 2 diabetes.