Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus, or simply diabetes, is often dubbed the “diabetes pandemic” or the “silent killer.” However, among the different types of diabetes mellitus, one type truly deserves that description; type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Of all the global diabetes cases in the world, about 96% of them are type 2 diabetes. What’s worse, diabetes type 2 is also responsible for most diabetes-related disabilities and deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the annual diabetes death rate to be about 1.5 million.

So, what is type 2 diabetes, and what should you know about its causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention? You’ll find the answers in the rest of the article. 


What is Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a high blood glucose problem triggered by the body’s inability to convert the sugar from consumed food into usable body energy.

This happens because of low insulin production by the pancreas or your body’s inability to correctly use insulin to convert the sugar from food into body fuel.

People with T2D are at a greater risk of other health complications, including heart disease and heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, and kidney failure.

Both T2D and related diseases are serious conditions. So, anyone would be interested to know what causes type 2 diabetes and how to stay away from the condition.


Causes and Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

If you are healthy and free of diabetes, your pancreas produces the right amount of insulin, and your body cells use it correctly to convert food sugar into body energy.

If you are diabetic, you have one or both of these insulin problems:

·        Your pancreas produces insufficient insulin.

·        Your body cells do not utilize insulin correctly.

Consequently, the primary cause of type 2 diabetes is related to how your body produces or uses insulin to convert food sugar into energy.

That said, not every person has the blood sugar issues that cause diabetes. That means people who get diabetes have some predisposing risk factors that make them more vulnerable to high blood sugar.

Below are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes:


Overweight and Obesity

Overweight or obese persons have excess body weight than what is considered healthy for their height. However, while an obese person has an excessive accumulation of body fat, an overweight person does not.

Nonetheless, both overweight and obesity are determined by your Body Mass Index (BMI). Below is a summary of the BMI values for an underweight, healthy, overweight, and obese person.

Underweight BMI

Normal BMI

Overweight BMI

Obese BMI





Going by this, you will be at risk of type 2 diabetes if your BMI is around 25.0 or higher. That’s because the extra weight and body fat are highly likely to cause insulin resistance.

Also, people whose extra body fat accumulates around the belly area are more likely to have insulin resistance.

If you want to quickly compute your BMI values, here’s the formula:

Your weight in Kg / the square of your height in meters.

For example, if your weight is 60kg and your height is 1.64, your BMI will be:

60/2.69 =22.30

In this case, your BMI is within the healthy range.


Physical Inactivity or a Sedentary Life

Physical inactivity is linked closely to being overweight. Research estimates that a third of the world population above age 15 has a majorly sedentary life and does not engage in enough physical exercise. Unfortunately, that negatively affects health.

Many of us engage in little to no exercise because of these factors:

·        Unavailability of space for exercising.

·        Work-related long sitting hours.

·        Long hours of engagement with the TV and other digital devices.

Inadequate physical activity increases your risk for type 2 diabetes because it compromises your body’s ability to control blood sugar, weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Instead, working out helps all these functions.

The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. This will not only help reduce your risk for diabetes type 2 but also other lifestyle diseases like heart disease.


Genes or a Family History for Diabetes

Even under similar lifestyles and other diabetes-predisposing risks, some people are more susceptible to developing diabetes.

Why is this?

Medics and researchers agree that genes and a family history of diabetes type 2 can increase your risk for the disease.

In other words:

·        You are at a greater risk for T2D if a member of your family has type 2 diabetes.

·        You have an additional point in risk for diabetes if you inherit particular genes associated with type 2 diabetes.

Both facts lead to the conclusion that people from different families could be exposed to similar non-genetic risk factors for diabetes. However, they may not have the same level of risk for developing T2D, thanks to their different genes.


High Fat and Carbohydrate Diet

Food is another factor linked closely to overweight and fat accumulation and, consequently, to type 2 diabetes.

Together with a lack of exercise, a poor diet is considered a core factor in the rise of type 2 diabetes cases.

Specifically, people who consume a high fat and carbohydrate diet increase the risk for high blood sugar levels and the buildup of body fat. Both factors are risks for insulin resistance.

Research recommends that people should choose a high-protein diet over high carbohydrate and fat diet. In fact, it is widely agreed that a high-protein diet favors the treatment and management of T2D and is more cost-effective.

You will find a more detailed approach to diet and T2D in our successive articles.


Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol has a controversial relationship with diabetes. On the one end, a bit of alcohol is said to be potentially good for controlling blood sugar and managing insulin usage.

On the other end, however, too much alcohol has several risks for diabetics and people trying to stay healthy from the condition. Precisely:

·        Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt your blood sugar levels.

·        Alcohol can interact with diabetes medication and insulin and cause hypoglycemia, where your blood sugar goes below normal levels, creating additional health risks.

·        Regular drinking can cause weight gain from beer calories. Weight gain is a quick path to developing diabetes.

If you have spoken to your doctor and has confirmed that it is safe for you to drink a bit of alcohol, the recommended amount by experts is as indicated:

·        A single drink per day for women.

·        2 (or less) drinks per day for men.


A drink can be either of these:

·        Beer – One drink = 12 Oz (360ml) of 5% alcohol content.

·        Wine – one drink = 5 Oz (150ml) of 12% alcohol content.

·        Liquor – One drink = 1.5 Oz (45ml) of 40% alcohol content.

Note that your doctor will list other precautions before you can get an ok for a drink. So, always speak to your doctor first!



Although anyone can get diabetes at any age, those above 45 have an age-related susceptibility to diabetes.

Studies have consistently shown that diabetes and aging are positively correlated, meaning the risk for diabetes increases with age.

This fact cautions aging persons to be cautious about other diabetes-predisposing factors such as diet and exercise.



A recent study by The Lancet (2021) has confirmed what other researchers have previously found out: people from particular ethnic groups have a higher susceptibility to type 2 diabetes.

Precisely, persons of Asian descent have a higher prevalence of diabetes (17.9%), followed by blacks (11.7%), and lastly, whites with a 5.5% prevalence,


Pre-disposing Health Conditions

Some health conditions can create favorable conditions for high blood sugar. These conditions include:

·        High blood pressure.

·        Heart disease.

·        Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

·        Pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.

·        Hormonal diseases like hyperthyroidism, acromegaly, and Cushing’s disease.


Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Before you even get a clinical diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, your body might already give signs of high blood sugar.

We tell you how doctors make a clinical diagnosis for type 2 diabetes in the next section.

Before that, here’s a list of the common signs and symptoms of T2D:

·        Being always thirsty.

·        Needing to pee frequently.

·        Feeling weak and tired.

·        Frequent hunger pangs.

·        Unintentional weight loss.

·        A blurred vision.

·        A feeling of tingling in the extremities (fingers and toes).

·        Chronic and hard-to-heal wounds.

·        Susceptibility to infections (including bladder and urinary tract infections).

If you notice any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is rule out the possibility that you have diabetes with a clinical diagnosis.


How is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?

Although you can guess the presence of high blood sugar by the symptoms and signs, the most accurate way to know you have type 2 diabetes is to get a clinical diagnosis.


Doctors and other qualified medical personnel can diagnose type 2 diabetes using different tests:

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test

Your doctor will perform this test in the morning following an 8-hour fast. Eating is not allowed during this time apart from some sips of water.

If your test results show a blood glucose level of ≥126 mg/dL, the doctor concludes a diabetes diagnosis.

Random Plasma Glucose Test

Your doctor can do the Random Plasma Glucose Test anytime. You do not need to be fasting. If the test records blood glucose levels ≥200mg/dL, the doctor writes a diabetes diagnosis.

Glycated Hemoglobin Testing (A1C)

The A1C tests the average glucose levels in your blood for the past three or so months. If the result shows a glucose level of 6.5% or more, the doctor makes a diabetes diagnosis.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

This test compares the glucose levels in your blood before and after consuming a sugary drink. The test is done in the morning after a night of fasting and repeated an hour or two after taking the sugary drink.

The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test determines how your body processes sugar. A blood sugar reading of ≥200mg/dL points to diabetes.

Note: Your doctor will most likely perform two consecutive tests for all these methods before concluding a diabetes diagnosis.

Here’s a quick tabled summary of the diabetes diagnosis tests:

Diabetes Diagnosis Test

Results Indicative of Diabetes

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test

≥126 mg/dL

Random Plasma Glucose Test


Glycated Hemoglobin Testing (A1C)


Oral Glucose Tolerance Test


Once you get a diabetes diagnosis, it is crucial that you faithfully follow the recommended treatment and management choices for the condition.


Treatment and Management of Type 2 Diabetes

For most health conditions, treatment eliminates the causes and signs of disease so the person can regain normal health. However, this is not the case with type 2 diabetes.

Once you have type 2 diabetes, the condition is curable. You have to manage it for life to keep your blood sugar under the recommended range.

Depending on your case and your doctor’s recommendation, there are two main ways to control blood sugar levels successfully:

·        Pairing a healthy diet with exercise.

·        Daily administration of medications or insulin.

Both options maintain your blood sugar levels within the range suggested by your doctor. We will discuss blood glucose management in a consecutive article.

In the meantime, it’s important to bear in mind that knowing your blood sugar level ranges is a crucial part of the successful management of diabetes.

The doctor-recommended blood sugar range is the target you try to maintain consistently.


Can You Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or, at least, delayed. Even if you have a genetically-predisposing factor, following these tips can reduce your risk of getting T2D or delay its onset:

·        Keep your weight at a healthy range (see the earlier section on overweight and obesity).

·        Exercise daily (at least 30 minutes daily).

·        Go for healthier food options (low-carb, high-protein diet; no sugary drinks, choose white meat over red meats, choose whole grains over refined grains, go for monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats).

·        Avoid smoking and excessing alcohol consumption (see earlier section on healthy alcohol consumption).

·        Regularly test for blood sugar (especially if your family has a history of diabetes).

·        Live a healthy lifestyle free of stressors (stress can alter body metabolisms, including insulin production and usage).



These questions about diabetes come up often. We have answers for you!

What is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

The primary differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes are summarized here:

Type 1 Diabetes


Type 2 Diabetes

·        Your pancreas makes no insulin.

·        You have to take insulin for life.

·        Affects a small portion of global diabetes cases.

·        Common among children, teenagers, and young adults.


·        Your pancreas makes insufficient insulin, and your body cells do not use insulin correctly.

·        Can be managed with lifestyle change.

·        Affects over 95% of global diabetes cases.

·        Affects anyone at any age, but older persons are at a greater risk.


What is Comorbid Diabetes?

Comorbid diabetes refers to a condition where a person with type 2 diabetes has other chronic conditions at the same time. According to The Lancet, the most common comorbidities among persons with diabetes include:

·        Hypertension,

·        ischemic heart disease,

·        depression,

·        back pain, and

·        osteoarthritis, in that order.

Other possible comorbidities include sleep disorders and obesity.

Read more info about diabetes in our main article on what is diabetes.

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