What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or whatever insulin produced is not used by the body’s cells in what is called insulin resistance. Our body needs insulin to convert glucose into energy. It is the most common type of diabetes and unlike type 1 diabetes manifests mainly in adults which gave rise to the term adult-onset diabetes.
Some people are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than others. In terms of ethnicity, African Americans are more at risk, followed by Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders also rank high in the risk of type 2 diabetes. Genetics definitely play a big role in the risk of type 2 diabetes. The link is stronger between developing type 2 and family history compared to type 1.
However, genetics or family history is not enough to conclude that a person will also develop type 2. In studies conducted between twins who have similar genetic make-up; it was revealed that lifestyle also had a profound effect. The study found that families with a history of obesity, similar eating and exercise patterns also tend to have a higher risk of developing type2. When a person has both family history and bad eating/exercise patterns, it may be difficult to determine exactly if it is genetics or lifestyle that caused type 2 diabetes.
The same shared genetics and lifestyle affects the risk of a child developing type 2 diabetes. The child of a type 2 diabetic diagnosed before the age of 50 will have a greater risk, 1 in 7 compared to 1 in 13 when diagnosed after the age of 50. The risk is believed to be even greater if the parent with type 2 diabetes is the mother. A 50% risk exists if a child has both parents with type 2 diabetes. The bad news is that there is no cure for type 2 diabetes. The good news is that it can be managed and a person with type 2 diabetes can live a full life with proper diabetes management. The first and most important goal is of course to control blood glucose. Next is to modify lifestyle related factors that affect blood glucose such as diet and physical activity.
A type 2 diabetic should also work in close coordination with a team of healthcare providers that includes primary care physician, nurse, dietician and if needed, a diabetes educator. Getting started on type 2 diabetes management can be confusing and stressful especially when it comes to blood glucose monitoring. That is why it is important to be guided by healthcare providers in using a glucose meter, in getting the correct supplies needed for glucose monitoring such as glucose test strips, lancing devices, lancets and many others.