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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you please explain the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

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Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of glucose in the blood (blood sugar) is too high. The process of moving glucose from the blood into the body’s cells relies on a hormone called insulin. Insulin is made by the pancreas, a gland lying behind the stomach. Insulin helps glucose to enter cells, for example, in muscles, liver and fat tissue. When insulin levels are too low or are ineffective, blood glucose levels can rise, which may result in diabetes. There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes typically appears in children and happens because of a lack of insulin. It’s caused when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed by an autoimmune response. The reason for this is still not well understood, but those with a genetic susceptibility are most at risk.There have also been suggestions that viral infections may trigger the process. This type of diabetes is treated with regular insulin injections and is also known as insulin dependent diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is known as non-insulin dependent diabetes. Insulin is produced, but the muscles that would normally respond by taking up glucose to use as energy storage become insulin resistant, causing glucose levels in the blood to increase. Historically, type 2 diabetes was seen in middle-aged and elderly people and only rarely occurred in young people.. Recently, however, it has escalated in all age groups and is now being diagnosed in younger and younger patients including obese adolescents and children. (1)

(1) Drake AJ, Smith A Betts PR Crowne EC Shield JP (2002) Type 2 diabetes in obese white children. Archives of Diseases in Childhood. 86 (3):207-208

For further information see:

British Nutrition Foundation
http://www.nutrition.org.uk/home.asp?siteId=43§ionId=405&subSectionId=321&parentSection=299&which=1


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The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet.

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