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Type 2 diabetes

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Definition

Formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes, the condition is now known as Type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is a metabolic disorder that causes hyperglycaemia, or high blood glucose levels, in the body.

This can be because the body is not good at using the insulin it has produced (insulin resistance) and/or that the body is unable to produce enough insulin.

Although it is associated with adults, Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in younger people and children. It makes up around 90 per cent of diabetes cases in the world.

Causes

Genetics and lifestyle both play a role. A combination of them can cause insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes can be hereditary, but having a parent with the condition does not necessarily mean that someone is guaranteed to develop it. However, there is a greater chance.

Lifestyle is another important factor. Someone who is overweight and inactive is more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Such lifestyle choices can influence how well the body uses insulin.

Risk factors

Risk factors include being overweight or obese, having a waist size of 31.5 inches or more (women) or 37 inches or more (men), eating unhealthily, being inactive, smoking, having an immediate relative with the condition, having high blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels, or being of South Asian or African Caribbean descent.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include an above average thirst, daytime tiredness, a need to urinate often, unexplained weight loss and genital itching. These are also common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.