Type 2 diabetes facts


Diabetes Quick Facts

The Big Picture

  • More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 4 of them don’t know they have it.
  • More than 84 million US adults—over a third—have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know they have it.
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States (and may be underreported).
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5%.
  • In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled as the American population has aged and become more overweight or obese.


  • You’re at risk for developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes if you:
    • Are overweight
    • Are age 45 or older
    • Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
    • Are physically active less than 3 times a week
    • Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant) or given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives are twice as likely as whites to have diabetes.
  • During their lifetime, half of all Hispanic men and women and non-Hispanic black women are predicted to develop diabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an immune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). Known risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:
    • Family history (having a parent, brother, sister with type 1 diabetes)
    • Age (it’s more likely to develop in children, teens, and young adults)
  • In the United States, whites are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than African Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans.
  • You’re at risk for developing gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant) if you:
    • Had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
    • Have given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
    • Are overweight
    • Are more than 25 years old
    • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
    • Have polycystic ovary syndrome
    • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian/Alaska Native, or Pacific Islander
  • Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born but increases your risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to have obesity as children or teens, and are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life too.


  • People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke as people without diabetes—and at an earlier age.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States, 2019, lower-limb amputations, and adult-onset blindness.
  • Smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers.
  • People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to develop serious related health problems, including heart and kidney disease.
  • In about 2 out of 3 American Indians/Alaska Natives with kidney failure, diabetes is the cause.


  • Medical costs and lost work and wages for people with diagnosed diabetes total $327 billion yearly.
  • Medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people who don’t have diabetes.

5 Surprising Facts About Diabetes

5 Things You Should Know About Diabetes

Diabetes affects more than 29 million people in the U.S., so chances are, this disease impacts your aunt, co-worker, friend, neighbor or someone else you know. Despite its prevalence, there are probably a few surprising things you don’t know about diabetes.

Fact No. 1: Diabetes is not caused by eating sugar.

A diet full of soda and sugary foods such as cereal, processed food and snacks puts you at risk for many things, but eating too much sugar is not the main culprit for diabetes. It’s much more complicated.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that develops usually at a young age when your pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that brings glucose into your body’s cells to be used as energy, needed to regulate glucose from the food you eat. There’s little you can do to prevent Type 1 diabetes (although family history plays a part).

Diabetes can change over time. — Melissa Sujak, RD

To help manage Type 1 diabetes, you will likely require:

  • Daily insulin shots
  • Careful carbohydrate counting
  • Planning physical activity and meals to regulate your blood glucose levels

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, occurs when the pancreas is still producing insulin, but over time, it isn’t able to make enough to maintain normal blood glucose levels, or the body is not responsive to the amount of insulin it produces (insulin resistance). Obesity, being overweight and family history are the primary risk factors.

Type 2 diabetes may be managed with one or more of the following:

  • Oral medications and insulin
  • Careful monitoring of diet
  • Exercise

Very often, people are first diagnosed with “prediabetes” as a red flag they are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Fact No. 2: People with diabetes can enjoy sweets.

Sweets and desserts are not off limits, but enjoying a piece of birthday cake requires some planning. Melissa Sujak, RD, CDE, a registered dietitian specializing in diabetes at Northwestern Medicine, says, “Many patients are afraid they can never eat sugar, cake or other taboo foods. I often tell patients that we are looking for progress, not perfection.” Instead, Sujak suggests an 80/20 rule: Strive to build a diet with 80% healthy choices. “If you are very mindful, you can make those exceptions.”

Cookies and other sweets contain carbohydrates that increase your blood glucose levels. Counting carbohydrates every time you eat is a vital part of maintaining normal blood glucose levels. It helps determine how much insulin to take, too.

When planned as part of a meal, small amounts of sugar can be substituted for other carbs, like skipping an extra piece of bread or eating half a cup of pasta, rice or potatoes. Swapping out real sugar with sweeteners or choosing “sugar-free” food does not mean food is carbohydrate-free; they may still contain sugar alcohol, which can increase blood glucose levels and have a laxative effect. Understanding food labels is an important tool for meal planning, says Sujak.

Cocktails, wine and beer also rock the carb counter. These beverages can be enjoyed in moderation but need to be accounted for in meal planning, as alcohol can raise and lower blood sugar levels. Sujak suggests talking to your diabetes educator for guidance and advice.

Fact No. 3: Having gestational diabetes does not mean your baby will have diabetes.

About 9% of pregnant women will become insulin resistant during pregnancy and develop gestational diabetes. If you’ve never had diabetes before, you can still develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy because even though your pancreas is working overtime to produce insulin, it may not be enough.

It’s not your fault, or your baby’s fault, if you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. And, it doesn’t mean your baby will have diabetes. However, it is important to work with your obstetrician to manage your condition; otherwise, it can cause your baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin, which is stored as “fat.” This can put your baby at risk for large birth weight, low blood glucose and breathing problems, as well as obesity and Type 2 diabetes later in life. In most cases, this type of diabetes goes away when the pregnancy ends.

Fact No. 4: Diabetes causes a lot of emotions.

It’s common for people with diabetes to feel angry, depressed or anxious. After all, it can be stressful to test your blood glucose several times a day, monitor what you eat, and give yourself insulin shots or take medication every single day. It’s easy to feel different and deny diabetes exists, and it’s easy to feel out of control, especially if your blood glucose level isn’t where you’d like it to be. If you see some despair in someone who has diabetes, remember these are natural emotions that can become barriers to good self-care, so be mindful by learning as much as you can so you are able to offer support and encouragement.

Additionally, remember that diabetes is a progressive condition. “It changes over time. Even if you’re doing everything perfectly, it can change or require medication adjustments. That might cause people to feel guilty,” says Sujak.

Fact No. 5: It takes time to adjust to having diabetes.

If you or someone you love has just been diagnosed with diabetes, realize that adjustment takes time. After all, it takes a lot of finger pricking, blood testing, shot giving and self-monitoring to reach and maintain normal blood sugar levels. And, it takes patience to fine-tune your blood glucose. Many factors affect your blood glucose level, including what you eat, how much you eat, how much you exercise, what time you take your medications or insulin, stress and sickness.

Left untreated, diabetes can lead to long-term complications, such as kidney failure, heart disease, blindness and neuropathy. So it’s important to learn to manage it, but remember to take it one step at a time. “From making small adjustments with food choices to physical activity, every little change is beneficial,” says Sujak.

10 Facts about the History of Diabetes

November 14th is world diabetes day and November is Diabetes awareness month! World diabetes day is internationally recognized; with the hope of bringing about more awareness and to celebrate how far medicine and technology have come since diabetes was first described. In honor of this important date and the entire month, I would like to share with the type 2 diabetes community some interesting facts about the history of diabetes.

10 facts about the history of diabetes

When was diabetes discovered?

The earliest known mention of diabetes symptoms dates back to 1552 B.C. An Egyptian physician named, Hesy-Ra, documented frequent urination as a symptom of this unexplainable disease which also caused extreme weight loss.

Where does the name Diabetes Mellitus (often shortened to diabetes) originate from?

In 230 BC, a physician named, Apollonius of Memphis, used the term “diabetes” (in Greek diabetes means siphon or to pass through), to describe a condition in which people were eliminating more fluid then they could consume.

In 1675 Thomas Willis, an English physician, added the Greek word “mellitus” (in Greek mellitus means sweet) to the word diabetes. This was because those with diabetes had urine with a sweet taste.

Before the discovery of insulin how was diabetes mellitus treated?

A scientist named, Frederick M. Allen, recognized that diabetes was not just a disease that caused elevated blood sugar levels but also a problem with metabolism. He developed the first “diabetic diet”, before the discovery of insulin. Allen’s diet, was a very low calorie diet the included mostly protein and fat, with only minimal amounts of carbohydrate.

When was insulin discovered?

Insulin was discovered by Fredrick Banting and Charles Best in 1921.

Who was the first person to receive insulin?

Leonard Thompson, a 14-year old boy with diabetes, received the first insulin injection in 1922 at a Toronto hospital.

How was November 14th chosen as world diabetes day?

November 14th is Fredrick Banting’s birthday, the Canadian physician, who co-discovered insulin along with his assistant Charles Best.

When was type 2 diabetes differentiated from type 1 diabetes

Harold Percival Himsworth, a British scientist, differentiated type 1 and type 2 diabetes in 1936. Individuals with type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent, while individuals with type 2 diabetes are usually insulin resistant (type 2 diabetes can progress overtime from a state of insulin resistance to insulin dependence). Both forms of diabetes result in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).

When were the first oral medications for type 2 diabetes introduced?

Between 1955 and 1956 oral medications, sulfonamide (Carbutamide and Tolbutamide- both in the sulfonylurea class of oral diabetes medications) and biguanide derivatives (Metformin), were developed for treatment of type 2 diabetes. Prior to 1955 insulin was the only treatment for type 2 diabetes.

When did the first blood glucose meter come available?

In 1970 the first blood glucose meter was introduced by the Ames Company. Prior to the invention of blood glucose meters, glucose was measured using urine test strips.

When in history did those with diabetes switch from following low carbohydrate to a more liberal intake of carbohydrates?

Up until the 1970s a lower carbohydrate high fat diet was promoted to manage diabetes. In 1980 the first set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans was published. These guidelines encouraged Americans to follow an eating plan that was lower in fat to reduce the risk of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For many individuals, following a lower-fat diet resulted in greater carbohydrate intake. In the last 15 years (or so) many individuals have started to go back to a lower carbohydrate diet to control blood glucose levels and to help with weight loss. For more information see the following article: Are Carbohydrates an Essential Nutrient? An update to: “Can a Low Carb Diet Help?”

15 Facts on Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is a well-known, potentially life-long disease. It seems to be more prevalent now than it ever has before. The good thing is you can control it by monitoring and adjusting your diet and exercise habits. If these things just don’t work for you, medication is the next step. I know I’m awful about taking medicine, especially if I don’t really want it. I’m not the only one out there like this and if type 2 isn’t controlled, it can spiral quickly into a very messy situation! No one wants that!! Here are some interesting facts about type 2 diabetes.

  1. The Big D…Diagnosis – When your doctor tells you that your A1c level is over 6.5, you are essentially being told that your pancreas isn’t keeping up with proper release of insulin. Glucose is released into the blood, which causes the pancreas to kick into action releasing insulin. This then allows the glucose to be turned into energy for the body. Risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases when your A1c is between 5.7 and 6.4; normal range is 4 -5.6.
  2. Symptoms or Symptomless? – Some people with type 2 diabetes don’t have symptoms at all. This may sound like a good thing, but I’m not so sure. No symptoms means that pesky, out of whack sugar level is wreaking havoc on your body…unbeknownst to you! Others have symptoms and let’s face it, some aren’t going to be pleasant. You will possibly experience a need for the bathroom often (most likely when there isn’t one available…Murphy’s Law), you’ll be very thirsty, you may have unplanned weight loss/gain, or weakness/fatigue, numbness and possible tingling in your hands and feet. Most of these are manageable or tolerable, but still very annoying.
  3. Complications, We All Have Them – Some of the complications of type 2 diabetes can be more than just annoying. They can be downright scary!! Think kidney damage/failure, vision issues, blindness, developing heart disease, strokes, depression, and amputation (yikes)! These complications are enough to encourage you to control this disease through diet, exercise and possibly medication!
  4. Who is Elliot P. Joslin? – He was the first doctor to specialize in diabetes. He started the first diabetes registry ever which was compiled from patients beginning in his third year of medical school. His aunt and mother both had diabetes.
  5. Diabetic Friendly Meals Really Exist? – Yes, they really do exist and yes, some can be quite tasty! Some things to think about are adding in extra veggies or substitutions. For instance, if you have a hankering for spaghetti, fine go for it! Just substitute some of the white pasta for whole wheat or better yet use spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini! Eating diabetic friendly meals is a great way to combat Type 2 diabetes. Another perfect way to do this is to order from a meal service, such as www.magickitchen.com. They have a plethora of diabetic friendly meals at great prices, prepared and delivered directly to you!
  6. Move That Booty…and the rest of your body – Cardio and weight training are some exercises we all need to do, not just those with Type 2. It doesn’t have to be boring, though. Go for a walk…this time of year is great for this! Not only will you be getting out of the house, but you’ll also get to see some of the signs of the changing season. I don’t know about you, but seeing new life popping up all over the place is revitalizing and encourages me to keep moving. As for the weight training, you don’t have to be a member of a gym. You have weights right in your own home. Start slow with some cans of veggies and move up to a gallon of water (in the jug, of course) to work your arms and upper body.
  7. Your Age Matters – If you are 45 or older guess what? You should be tested for type 2 diabetes. Why? Simple, it’s a risk factor. Pair that up with other risk factors such as a close family member is diabetic, you don’t move your body enough, high blood pressure, or having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), you should be tested even younger. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list of risk factors!
  8. Always Brush Your Teeth – This is something my brother-in-law used to tell my kids when they were little! He’s right, though…and this is extremely important if you have diabetes. Dry mouth, thrush, and periodontal gum disease are things the diabetic should watch for. Did you know that gum disease can actually make controlling your glucose levels even harder? Teeth and gums aren’t just for eating anymore!
  9. Love Thy Kidneys – Kidney failure is not pretty. People with type 2 diabetes make up 44% (ish) of the cases of chronic kidney failure. This is even when diabetes is under control! Be sure to discuss those kidneys with your doctor.
  10. One Doctor, Two Doctor, Three Doctor, Four? – Get used to seeing more than one doctor. Once you have type 2 diabetes, you need a team of doctors to monitor your health. That care team is going to make sure that no stone is left unturned, nothing has been missed. We’re talking a primary care doc, a dentist (see #8), an ophthalmologist (see #3), a dietician, and possibly an endocrinologist. I didn’t even count the cardiologist if you have a history of heart disease.
  11. It’s a Numbers Game – You will get used to checking your glucose levels. Not just at the doctor’s office, either. You should be monitoring them at home as well. What are the numbers you should be looking for? Normal blood glucose ranges (for those with type 2) before eating a meal should be around 70-130 and less than 180 1-2 hours after the beginning of a meal. Bedtime might look a little different and range from 90-150. Your doctor should have prescribed a meter and test strips for you to use. Because I forget things so easily, my suggestion is to keep a log to share with your doctor.
  12. It’s Greek, errr…Latin? – Random fact here…the word diabetes is actually Greek for “siphon”. What?? Remember one of the possible symptoms is having to use the bathroom a lot? Well, in this case, the ample amount of urine associated with diabetes is the “siphon” being referred to. The Latin comes in with “mellitus”, or honey (sweet). This was basically thrown on when doctors found out that a diabetic’s urine is sweet. (I’m not going to go into how they discovered this. Use your imagination!)
  13. Apples to Oranges, I Mean Pears – For quite some time, I’ve heard body types labeled as apples, pears, hourglasses, bananas, spoons, etc. Did you know that those with an apple body shape have a greater risk of developing diabetes than those with pear shapes? Food for thought.
  14. Men vs Women – Ahh…the age old competition. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t have a victorious ending for either. However, men have the higher risk of death from diabetes than women. Men, listen to your doctors and extend your life expectancy! Please!
  15. Diet Drinks Need to Go – Drinking soda just isn’t good for you, I’m including the diet stuff, too. Who doesn’t love the bubbly, sweet goodness on a hot day? Well, that drink could be an additional risk to developing type 2 diabetes. The artificial sweetener may just lead to signs of glucose intolerance, which in turn can lead to type 2. I do have a bit of good news, though…especially for coffee drinkers! Those heavy coffee hitters have a lower risk of developing diabetes. The range to be considered a heavy coffee drinker 4-6 8oz cups. Keep in mind that this is not a license to knock back 6 large lattes. I’m talking black coffee.

There you have some fun and not so fun facts on type 2 diabetes. It’s not a pretty disease to have. Remember some key points: diet and exercise are vital and they don’t have to be boring or unpleasant!

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Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose, the main type of sugar in the blood.

What Happens in Diabetes?

Our bodies break down the foods we eat into glucose and other nutrients we need, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract. The glucose level in the blood rises after a meal and triggers the pancreas to make the hormone insulin and release it into the bloodstream. But in people with diabetes, the body either can’t make or can’t respond to insulin properly.

Insulin works like a key that opens the doors to cells and lets the glucose in. Without insulin, glucose can’t get into the cells (the doors are “locked” and there is no key) and so it stays in the bloodstream. As a result, the level of sugar in the blood remains higher than normal. High blood sugar levels are a problem because they can cause a number of health problems.

The two types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Both make blood sugar levels higher than normal but they do so in different ways.

Type 1 diabetes happens when the immune system attacks and destroys the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. Kids with type 1 diabetes need insulin to help keep their blood sugar levels in a normal range.

Type 2 diabetes is different. A person with type 2 diabetes still produces insulin but the body doesn’t respond to it normally. Glucose is less able to enter the cells and do its job of supplying energy (a problem called insulin resistance). This raises the blood sugar level, so the pancreas works hard to make even more insulin. Eventually, this strain can make the pancreas unable to produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal.

People with insulin resistance may or may not develop type 2 diabetes — it all depends on whether the pancreas can make enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal. High blood sugar levels that happen a lot are a sign that a person has developed diabetes.

Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?

No one knows for sure what causes type 2 diabetes. But many kids who develop it have at least one parent with diabetes and a family history of the disease, so there seems to be a genetic risk.

Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Excess fat makes it harder for the cells to respond to insulin, and not being physically active makes this even worse. Type 2 diabetes used to mostly affect adults, but now more and more U.S. kids and teens, especially those who are overweight, are developing the disease.

Also, kids in puberty are more likely to have it than younger kids, probably because of normal rises in hormone levels that can cause insulin resistance during this stage of fast growth and physical development.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes aren’t always obvious and they can take a long time to develop. Sometimes, there are no symptoms. It’s important to remember that not everyone with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes develops these warning signs, and not everyone who has these symptoms necessarily has type 2 diabetes.

But kids or teens who develop type 2 diabetes may:

  • Need to pee a lot. The kidneys respond to high levels of glucose in the blood by flushing out the extra glucose in urine (pee). Kids with high blood sugar levels need to pee more often and make more pee.
  • Drink a lot of liquids. Because they’re peeing so often and losing so much fluid, they can become very thirsty and drink a lot in an attempt to keep the levels of body water normal.
  • Feel tired often. This is because the body can’t use glucose for energy properly.

Doctors can determine if a person has type 2 diabetes by testing blood samples for glucose. Even if a child or teen doesn’t have any symptoms of type 2 diabetes, doctors might test blood sugar in kids who are more likely to get it — like those who are overweight.

Sometimes doctors may do another blood test, called the glycosylated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1c or HbA1c) test, to check for diabetes in children at higher risk for getting type 2 diabetes. This test shows how blood sugar levels have been running over the past few months.

If diabetes is suspected or confirmed, the doctor may refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the endocrine system (such as diabetes and growth disorders) in kids.

Kids and teens with type 2 diabetes use diet, exercise, and medicines that improve the body’s response to insulin to control their blood sugar levels. Some may need to take insulin shots or use an insulin pump too.

What Problems Can Happen With Type 2 Diabetes?

Sometimes, kids and teens with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, or obesity might develop thick, dark, velvet-like skin around the neck, armpits, groin, between fingers and toes, or on elbows and knees — a cosmetic skin condition called acanthosis nigricans. This skin darkening can lighten over time with improvement in insulin resistance.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in girls is also often associated with insulin resistance. This hormone problem can make the ovaries become enlarged and develop cysts (fluid-filled sacs). Girls with PCOS might have irregular periods, might stop having periods, and may have excess facial and body hair growth. It also can cause fertility problems.

People with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes are also more likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) or abnormal levels of blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides). When these problems cluster together, it’s called metabolic syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome are at risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

Diabetes also can cause heart disease and stroke, as well as other long-term complications, including eye problems, kidney disease, nerve damage, and gum disease. While these problems don’t usually show up in kids or teens who’ve had type 2 diabetes for only a few years, they can affect them in adulthood, particularly if their diabetes isn’t well controlled.

What’s New in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes?

Doctors and researchers are developing new equipment and treatments to help kids deal with the special problems of growing up with diabetes.

Some kids and teens already use new devices that make blood glucose testing and insulin injections easier and more effective. One of these is the insulin pump, a mechanical device that can be programmed to deliver insulin more like the pancreas does.

Researchers are also testing ways to stop diabetes before it starts. For example, scientists are studying whether diabetes can be prevented in those who may have inherited an increased risk for the disease.

How Can I Help My Child?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that needs close attention. You’ll be your child’s most important partner in learning to live with it.

Kids or teens with type 2 diabetes may need to:

  • Get to and maintain a normal body weight.
  • Monitor blood sugar levels regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet, as determined by the care team.
  • Get regular physical activity to achieve a healthy weight and allow insulin to work more effectively.
  • Take insulin or other medicines that help the body respond to insulin more effectively.
  • Work closely with their doctors and diabetes health care team to get the best possible diabetes control.
  • Be watched for signs of complications and other diabetes-related health problems.

Living with diabetes is a challenge for anyone, but kids and teens often have special issues to deal with. Young kids might not understand why they need blood tests and medicines. They might be scared, angry, and uncooperative.

Teens may feel different from their peers and want a more carefree lifestyle than their diabetes allows. Even when they faithfully follow their treatment schedule, they might feel frustrated if the natural body changes of puberty make their diabetes somewhat harder to control.

Having a child with diabetes may seem overwhelming at times, but you’re not alone. If you have questions or problems, reach out to the diabetes health care team — they can help with medical issues, and are there to support and help you and your child.

Reviewed by: Shara R. Bialo, MD Date reviewed: August 2018

Type 1 Diabetes Facts

There is nothing anyone can do to prevent T1D. Presently, there is no known cure.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels. T1D develops when the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. The cause of this attack is still being researched, however scientists believe the cause may have genetic and environmental components.

Who T1D affects

Type 1 diabetes (sometimes known as juvenile diabetes) affects children and adults, though people can be diagnosed at any age. With a typically quick onset, T1D must be managed with the use of insulin—either via injection or insulin pump. Soon, people who are insulin dependent may also be able to use artificial pancreas systems to automatically administer their insulin.

How T1D is managed

Type 1 diabetes is a 24/7 disease that requires constant management. People with T1D continuously and carefully balance insulin intake with eating, exercise and other activities. They also measure blood-sugar levels through finger pricks, ideally at least six times a day, or by wearing a continuous glucose monitor.

Even with a strict regimen, people with T1D may still experience dangerously high or low blood-glucose levels that can, in extreme cases, be life threatening. Every person with T1D becomes actively involved in managing his or her disease.

Insulin is not a cure

While insulin therapy keeps people with T1D alive and can help keep blood-glucose levels within recommended range, it is not a cure, nor does it prevent the possibility of T1D’s serious effects.

The outlook for treatments and a cure

Although T1D is a serious and challenging disease, long-term management options continue to evolve, allowing those with T1D to have full and active lives. JDRF is driving research to lessen the impact of T1D on people’s lives until a cure is achieved.


  • Some 1.25 million Americans are living with T1D, including about 200,000 youth (less than 20 years old) and more than 1 million adults (20 years old and older).1,5
  • 64,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S.2
  • 5 million people in the U.S. are expected to have T1D by 2050, including nearly 600,000 youth.3
  • Between 2001 and 2009, there was a 21 percent increase in the prevalence of T1D in people under age 20.3
  • In the U.S., there are $16 billion in T1D-associated healthcare expenditures and lost income annually.
  • Less than one-third of people with T1D in the U.S. are consistently achieving target blood-glucose control levels.6

Warning signs

Warning signs of T1D often appear suddenly and may include:

  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fruity odor on the breath
  • Increased appetite
  • Heavy or labored breathing
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sugar in the urine
  • Stupor or unconsciousness

What it’s like to have T1D

It can be difficult and upsetting. It can be life threatening, and it never goes away. T1D is affected by every bite you eat and every jog you go on. Despite this, people with T1D serve as an inspiration by facing the disease’s challenges with courage and perseverance, and they don’t let it stand in the way of achieving their goals.

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