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What is Diabetes?

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Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body can’t use glucose (a type of sugar) normally. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas. Insulin helps glucose to enter the cells.

Diabetes is caused when there is resistance to, or deficient production of insulin, which helps glucose move from the blood into the body’s cells. When the body does not produce or use enough insulin, the cells cannot use the glucose for energy and the blood glucose level rises. This means that the body will instead start to break down its own fat and muscle for energy.1

Globally, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of diabetes. It is estimated that if the current world wide trend prevails, there will be 380 million people affected by diabetes by the year 2025.2 Even though diabetes affects nearly 4% of the world’s population,3 many people know very little about the disease.

There are 2 primary types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that create insulin. As a result, the body makes very little or no insulin of its own. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the body cannot properly use the insulin it does create. Eventually, the pancreas may stop producing insulin altogether. Type 2 diabetes can affect people at any age. In both men and women, the more overweight an individual is, the greater the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.4

1 Department of Health and Ageing-What is diabetes? http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pq-diabetes-what
2 International Diabetes Federation. Did you know? Available at: http://www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?node=264. Accessed October 16, 2008.
3 US Census Bureau. World Population Clock Projection. Available at: http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html. Accessed October 16, 2008. Estimated world population is 6.8 billion.
4 International Diabetes Federation. Fact Sheet Diabetes and Obesity. Available at: http://www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?node=1207. Accessed November 13, 2008.

 

A hormone produced in the beta cells in the pancreas. The body uses insulin to let glucose enter cells, where it is used for energy.

Also known as type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin or extremely small amounts. People with type 1 need to take insulin injections in order to survive.

Now known as type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin or extremely small amounts. People with type 1 need to take insulin injections in order to survive.

Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant woman lying in bed with doctor and husband

Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnancy hormones and weight gain block a woman’s body's ability to use insulin properly. This type of diabetes can affect women who have never had diabetes. Gestational diabetes may affect as many as 7% of pregnant women.1

Gestational diabetes can lead to high blood pressure for the mother and high birth weight for the baby. Although this type of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, there is also an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes for both mother and baby in the future. Your baby may also be at higher risk of childhood obesity.2

These risks can be reduced by maintaining a reasonable weight, staying physically active and making healthy food choices. Breast-feeding may lower your baby’s risk for type 2 diabetes as well. See your healthcare professional to create a management plan that is right for you and your baby.

1 American Diabetes Association. Gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care 2003;26:S103-S105. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/26/suppl_1/s103. Accessed October 16, 2008.
2 International Diabetes Federation. Who gets diabetes? Available at: http://www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?unode=3B96880C-C026-2FD3-87046988B851BC00. Accessed November 12, 2008.

A condition in which high blood glucose levels develop during pregnancy in women who were not previously diabetic; diagnosed at 24-28 weeks gestation; levels usually return to normal after delivery, but mothers with gestational diabetes may be at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

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This website contains information on products which are targeted to a wide range of audiences and could contain product details or information otherwise not accessible or valid in your country. Please be aware that we do not take any responsibility for accessing such information which may not comply with any valid legal process, regulation, registration or usage in the country of your origin. For people with diabetes. Use only as directed. See your healthcare professional for medical advice.