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Types of diabetes

What are the types of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes

  • One out of 10 people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
  • Can be hereditary 
  • Usually starts when one is a baby, child, teen or young adult 
  • Develops over a short period of time 
  • All insulin-producing (beta) cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s own immune system (autoimmune process).
  • Zero insulin is produced. The cell receptors (locks) cannot be opened; therefore no glucose (energy) can enter the cells.
  • Now starving for energy, the body starts to break down its own muscle and fat to make an inefficient form of energy.

This results in:

  • Rapid weight loss 
  • Ketone development (a by-product of fat breakdown) 
  • High glucose levels and ketones cause a very serious illness called diabetic ketoacidosis, diabetic coma or DKA. It can be fatal if not treated promptly.
  • People with type 1 diabetes need outside insulin to live.

Type 2 diabetes 

  • 90 percent of diabetics have type 2 diabetes.
  • Although it usually occurs over age 40, more people are developing type 2 as younger adults. Children are now also at risk.
  • Type 2 is progressive, requiring changing treatment over time.

Risk factors for type 2 include:

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes. Several genes have recently been identified; more are still to be discovered.
  • Certain ethnic groups carry a higher risk: African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian-Americans and Native Americans.
  • Being overweight 
  • Being sedentary 
  • History of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or high birth weight baby (>9 pounds) 
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) 
  • Pre-diabetes (glucose intolerance) 
  • High dose or chronic steroid medications 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Abnormal cholesterol and/or triglycerides levels 
  • Family history of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease


Pre-diabetes is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose or A1C levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Studies have shown that people with prediabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and in some cases return their blood glucose levels to normal.