A global disease
Is diabetes a common condition?
The answer is YES. According to the International Diabetes federation, 537 million adults are living with diabetes worldwide, what represents 1 in 10. The total number of people with diabetes is predicted to rise to 643 million (1 in 9 adults) by 2030 and 784 million (1 in 8 adults) by 2045. Diabetes caused 6.7 million deaths in 2021 – 1 every 5 seconds.3
In the US alone, 30.3 million adults have diabetes, and it is estimated that 1 in 4 of them don’t know they have it.1 It is also estimated that diabetes caused directly 1.5 million deaths worldwide in 2012, and an additional 2.2 million deaths by high blood glucose increasing the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.2
The multiple types of diabetes
I have heard that there are different kinds of diabetes. Is this true?
Indeed, though we should rather say that there are different types of diabetes. The most common form is known as type 2 diabetes: about 90% of diabetes cases belong to type 2. It usually occurs in adults, when resistance to insulin develops, or when the production of insulin becomes insufficient. For years, symptoms can go unnoticed, hence the necessity of blood sugar tests in at-risk people, especially when considering that type 2 diabetes can be delayed, or even prevented thanks to healthy lifestyle measures.3,4
Type 1 diabetes, once called juvenile diabetes (or insulin-dependent diabetes) occurs when the pancreas produces no insulin, or very little. It is thought to be due to an autoimmune reaction (the immune system attacks the body by mistake), and it roughly affects 5% of diabetes patients. Unlike type 2 diabetes, most cases develop quickly and are diagnosed in children, teenagers or young adults, but it can develop at any age. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, and it requires taking insulin every day to survive.3,5
Other types of diabetes exist, but on this website, the main focus is on type 2 diabetes. For any further questions about diabetes and its other forms, please check with your physician.
I have heard about a condition called ‘prediabetes’. What is it?
Prediabetes is a condition in which the blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Millions of people worldwide do not know that they have prediabetes, that is why it is important to get screened for the condition.5
Prediabetic persons may develop type 2 diabetes in later life. There is a rule of “thirds” - about one third of prediabetic people will develop diabetes in the next 5 years, one third will remain prediabetic, while one third will revert to normal.6
Yes, those who have prediabetes are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Weight control can help prevent progression from prediabetes to diabetes and avoid cardiovascular problems.6