Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Alternate Names : Noninsulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus, Adult-Onset Diabetes Mellitus, NIDDM
Type 2 diabetes mellitus, more often known as type 2 diabetes, is the most common type of
diabetes. Unlike in type 1 diabetes,
people with type 2 diabetes may make healthy or even high levels of insulin. But, their body cells do not use
insulin effectively. This resistance to insulin is often caused by obesity.
Insulin is a hormone that helps control the level of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the main form of sugar in
the body. When the body cannot control the level of glucose, it has a hard time converting food into the
energy that the body needs to work. There are other forms of diabetes
What is going on in the body?
The pancreas, a long, thin organ located behind the stomach, makes insulin. In healthy people,
the pancreas makes extra insulin when a person eats. Insulin moves glucose from the bloodstream
into the body cells. The cells use glucose as their main energy source.
In a person with type 2 diabetes, however, even though the pancreas may make enough insulin,
the body cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. So they don't receive enough glucose and the blood
glucose level rises too high. This causes a condition called hyperglycemia, and it can cause damage to the
body, if left untreated.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
Obesity is the
main cause of type 2 diabetes in both adults and children. A recent study showed a 33% increase in
the number of Americans with type 2 diabetes during the past 8 years. The increase was 70% in people
who were 30 to 39 years of age.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of the cases of
diabetes in the US.
Type 2 diabetes used to be rare in children, but is now diagnosed in 20% of the children who
have diabetes. Of the children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 85% are
obese. At this time, most
children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are 10 years of age or older. Researchers believe there will
be an increase in type 2 diabetes in younger children who become obese.
Type 2 diabetes is more common in people with a family history of the disease. It's also
more common among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans, and Native
Other risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes include:
age of 45 or older
an HDL, the so-called
good cholesterol, level equal to or less than 35 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter)
high blood pressure,
defined as a reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher
a history of gestational diabetes
or of having babies that weighed more than 9 pounds at birth
lack of physical activity
a triglyceride level
equal to or more than 250 mg/dL
A recent study of 16,000 American women between the ages of 40 and 65 years showed
that diabetes was listed as one of the top six diagnoses. A long-term study is under way to see if
changes in hormone levels are factors in developing type 2 diabetes.
Almost all people who develop type 2 diabetes have a condition called
prediabetes first. This
condition used to be known as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting
glucose, and the ADA estimates that almost 16 million people over the age of 40
have it. This condition occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than healthy
levels but too low to be diagnosed as diabetes. Without lifestyle changes, most
people who have prediabetes will progress to type 2 diabetes within 10 years.