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Diabetes: The differences between types 1 and 2

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes both occur when the body cannot properly store and use glucose, which is essential for energy. Sugar, or glucose, collects in the blood and does not reach the cells that need it, which can lead to serious complications.

Type 1 diabetes usually appears first in children and adolescents, but it can occur in older people, too. The immune system attacks the pancreatic beta cells so that they can no longer produce insulin. There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes, and it is often hereditary. Around 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Type 2 diabetes is more likely to appear as people age, but many children are now starting to develop it. In this type, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body cannot use it effectively. Lifestyle factors appear to play a role in its development. According to the CDC, around 90–95 percent of people with diabetes have this type.

Both types of diabetes can lead to complications, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, vision loss, neurological conditions, and damage to blood vessels and organs.

The CDC estimate that over 30 million people in the United States probably have diabetes, but 25 percent of them do not know they have it.

Another type is gestational diabetes. This occurs in pregnancy and typically resolves after childbirth, but some people then develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

This article will look at the differences and similarities between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.


Type 1 and type 2 have different causes, but they both involve insulin.

Insulin is a type of hormone. The pancreas produces it to regulate the way blood sugar becomes energy.

Type 1 diabetes

In this type, scientists believe that the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. They do not know what causes this to happen, but childhood infections may play a role.

The immune system destroys these cells, which means that the body can no longer make enough insulin to regulate blood glucose levels. A person with type 1 diabetes will need to use supplemental insulin from the time they receive the diagnosis and for the rest of their life.

Type 1 often affects children and young adults, but it can happen later in life. It can start suddenly, and it tends to worsen quickly.

Risk factors include:

  • having a family history of diabetes
  • being born with certain genetic features that affect the way the body produces or uses insulin
  • some medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis
  • possibly, exposure to some infections or viruses, such as mumps or rubella cytomegalovirus

Type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells start to resist the effects of insulin. In time, the body stops producing enough insulin, so it can no longer use glucose effectively.

This means glucose cannot enter the cells. Instead, it builds up in the blood.

This is called insulin resistance.

It can happen when the person always or often has high blood glucose. When the body’s cells are overexposed to insulin, they become less responsive to it, or maybe they no longer respond at all.

Symptoms may take years to appear. People may use medications, diet, and exercise from the early stages to reduce the risk or slow the disease.

In the early stages, a person with type 2 diabetes does not need supplemental insulin. As the disease progresses, however, they may need it to manage their blood glucose levels in order to stay healthy.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • having a family member with type 2 diabetes
  • having obesity
  • smoking
  • following an unhealthful diet
  • a lack of exercise
  • the use of some medications, including some anti-seizure drugs and some medications for HIV

People from certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. These include Black and Hispanic people, Native American Indians and Native Alaskans, Pacific Islanders, and some people of Asian origin, according to the CDC.

Risk factors

Genetic and environmental factors may trigger both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but many people may be able to avoid type 2 by making healthful lifestyle choices.

Research has also suggested that some other environmental factors might play a role.

Vitamin D

Studies have suggested that vitamin D may help prevent both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Low levels of vitamin D may play a role in the development of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to some studies.

A review published in 2017 suggests that when a person lacks vitamin D, certain processes in the body, such as immune function and insulin sensitivity, do not work as well as they should. According to scientists, this may increase a person’s risk of diabetes.

The primary source of vitamin D is exposure to sunshine. Food sources include oily fish and fortified dairy products.


Some researchers have suggested that giving an infant only breastmilk, even for a short time, might help prevent type 1 diabetes in the future.

A review published in 2012 concluded that there might be “weak protective associations” between exclusively breastfeeding and type 1 diabetes. However, there was not enough evidence to prove that a link exists.


A person with diabetes may experience symptoms and complications due to inadequate levels of blood sugar.

Other aspects of metabolic syndrome also occur alongside type 2 diabetes, including obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Inflammation appears to play a role.

The chart below outlines the symptoms and complications of type 1 and type 2 diabetes before and at the onset of the condition.

Type 1 Type 2
Before onset BMI within a healthy range (19–24.9) BMI above the healthy range (25 or over)
At onset Appearance over several weeks of:
increased thirst and urination
increased hunger
blurry vision
tiredness and fatigue
numbness or tingling in hands and feet
sores or wounds that take a long time to heal
unexplained weight loss
Development over several years of:
increased thirst and urination
increased hunger
blurry vision
tiredness and fatigue
numbness or tingling in hands or feet
sores or wounds that take a long time to heal
unexplained weight loss
Complications Risk of:
cardiovascular disease, including a risk of heart attack and stroke
kidney disease and kidney failure
eye problems and vision loss
nerve damage
problems with wound healing
Risk of:
cardiovascular disease, including a risk of heart attack and stroke
kidney disease and kidney failure
eye problems and vision loss
nerve damage
problems with wound healing, which can lead to gangrene and the need for an amputation


If a person’s blood sugar is too high, they may experience the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia and long-term complications, such as vision loss, cardiovascular disease, and organ failure.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), when a person has hyperglycemia, they may experience the following:

  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst

This can lead to ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition that needs urgent medical attention.

Symptoms include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • a fruity smell on the breath
  • nausea and vomiting
  • a dry mouth
  • coma

Click here to learn more about hyperglycemia.


Share on PinterestPeople with diabetes need to test their blood sugar levels regularly.

Hypoglycemia is when blood sugar levels are too low. This can result in diabetes if the person uses more insulin or drugs that cause the body to produce insulin than they need.

Early symptoms include:

  • sweating, chills, and a pale face
  • feeling shaky, nervous, and anxious
  • rapid heartbeat
  • feeling dizzy and lightheaded
  • nausea
  • feeling weak and tired
  • headache
  • tingling

A person should take a glucose tablet, a candy, or a sweet drink to relieve the symptoms and prevent the problem from getting worse. Follow this with a protein-based food, such as peanut butter.

Without treatment, the person may experience:

  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness
  • coma

This can be life-threatening and needs immediate medical attention.

A person with diabetes should carry a medical ID so that others will know what to do if a problem occurs.

Find out more here about hypoglycemia.


The onset of type 1 diabetes tends to be sudden. If symptoms are present, the person should see a doctor as soon as possible.

A person with prediabetes, which is the earliest stage of type 2 diabetes, and the early stages of type 2 will have no symptoms, but a routine blood test will show that blood sugar levels are high.

People with obesity and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes should have regular checks to ensure that their glucose levels are healthy. If tests show they are high, the person can take action to delay or prevent diabetes and its complications.

The following tests can assess for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but they may not all be useful for both types:

  • A1C test, which doctors also call the hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test
  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
  • Random plasma glucose (RPG) test

Depending on the results, the doctor may diagnose diabetes or prediabetes.

The following table shows what type of results indicate diabetes:

A1C (%) FPG
(milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)
Diabetes 6.5% or above 126 or over 200 or over 200 or over
Prediabetes 5.7–6.4% 100–125 140–199
Normal below 5.7% below 100 below 140 below 200

The ADA recommend regular screening for type 2 diabetes in people aged 45 years and above, or earlier for those with risk factors.

People can check their own blood glucose levels at home. Testing kits are available for purchase online.

Treatment and prevention

There is no cure for diabetes, but treatment can help people to manage it and prevent it from getting worse. Here are some points about treating and managing diabetes.

Type 1 Type 2
Possible cure Currently no cure, but lifetime treatment can manage symptoms.
In time, gene therapy, regenerative medicine using stem cells, or pancreatic islet transplantation may become an option.
Currently no cure, but measures can slow progression and manage symptoms.
Gastric bypass may reduce symptoms in people with severe obesity.
Treatment with insulin and other drugs Daily insulin injections or using an insulin pump can provide insulin as needed through the day and night.
Other drugs, such as pramlintide, can stop glucose levels from rising too far.
Metformin can reduce the amount of sugar the liver produces.
SGLT2 inhibitors, DP-4 inhibitors, or alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs) can reduce blood sugar levels.
Meglitinides or sulfonylureas can increase insulin levels.
Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) can increase sensitivity to insulin.
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists can increase insulin and reduce sugar levels.
Amylin analogs can reduce blood sugar by slowing digestion.
Additional drugs for people at high risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.
Insulin in some cases.
Lifestyle treatments Follow the treatment plan and the doctor’s instructions regarding insulin and glucose testing.
Follow an active, healthful lifestyle to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues.
Pay attention to glucose levels when exercising.
Managing blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Follow the treatment plan and medical advice. Healthful diet
Regular exercise
Managing blood pressure and high cholesterol levels
Avoiding smoking
Knowing the signs of adverse effects and complications.
Avoiding complications Follow the treatment plan and know the signs of hypo and hyperglycemia and the complications of diabetes.
Wear a medical ID.
Take measures to avoid infections
Have regular eye tests
Check for wounds and seek early treatment
Know the signs of possible complications to be ready to take action.
Wear a medical ID.
Take measures to avoid infections.
Check for wounds and seek early treatment.
Have regular eye tests.
Follow a healthful diet and take exercise to manage cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular risk.
Prevention It is not yet possible to prevent type 1 diabetes. Follow a healthful diet with regular exercise. Avoid or quit smoking.
Follow a doctor’s instructions if they diagnose prediabetes.

Scientists have been investigating whether immunosuppressant drugs — effective in treating conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis — might help prevent or reverse type 1 diabetes. However, results so far have been inconclusive.

There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, although gastric bypass surgery, lifestyle, and medication treatment can result in remission.

Find out more here about non-insulin drugs for type 2 diabetes.


Diabetes is a serious condition.

It is not currently possible for a person to prevent type 1, but insulin and other drugs can help people to manage their symptoms and live a normal life.

While there may be a hereditary link for both types of diabetes, people can both reduce the risk and manage the progress of type 2 diabetes dramatically by following a healthful lifestyle with regular exercise.

Anyone with a diagnosis of prediabetes should also make healthful lifestyle choices, as this can reduce or eliminate the risk of type 2 diabetes developing.

Read more:


Diabetes: Nurses Make The Difference

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is The Nurse and Diabetes. The campaign aims to raise awareness around the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes.

Nurses currently account for over half of the global health workforce. They do outstanding work to support people living with a wide range of health concerns. People who either live with diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition need their support too.

People living with diabetes face a number of challenges, and education is vital to equip nurses with the skills to support them.

As the number of people with diabetes continues to rise across the world, the role of nurses and other health professional support staff becomes increasingly important in managing the impact of the condition.

Healthcare providers and governments must recognise the importance of investing in education and training. With the right expertise, nurses can make the difference for people affected by diabetes.

· Key messages

· Resources

· Get involved

· Share your WDD activity

To mark World Diabetes Day 2020, the International Diabetes Federation is organising a Twitter chat on The Role of the Nurse in Diabetes Care

Read more:


World Diabetes Day 2020

Theme, History, Significance, Facts

World Diabetes Day – 14th November 2020

Every year November 14th is celebrated as World Diabetes Day. With the advent of technology, man is prone to several lifestyle diseases. Diabetes mellitus or naturally, diabetes is an ailment in persons who have high blood glucose levels in their bodies. Till now, medical science has found no cure for diabetes, but the disease can be controlled, and blood sugar levels can be maintained.

Children and younger people are more prone to type-1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more commonly seen in people who are in their mid-age groups and also in senior citizens. Gestational diabetes sometimes occurs in pregnant women. World diabetes day is celebrated to help spread awareness of this disease amongst the global community. This article primarily focuses on the history, importance, themes, celebrations and relevant FAQs of World Diabetes Day 2020.

World Diabetes Day – History

The first-ever World Diabetes Day was celebrated on November 14th, 1991. It is a rare celebration where health care fraternities join hands with the general public to spread awareness of diabetes. The International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) collaborated with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to mark the first-ever international celebration. The IDF started the promotions for this day owing to medical concerns regarding the increasing cases of diabetes Mellitus worldwide.

Diabetes not just affected a particular age group. Still, its side effects and overall health deterioration raised eyebrows amongst global communities to raise the bar and effectively create awareness amongst the public.

In the year 2006, the UN passed a resolution on official terms, and since then, the day is observed with formal celebrations. November 14th also marks a significant day in medical history. Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin in the year 1922. The birth anniversary of Sir Frederick Banting is celebrated every year on November 14th.

Significance of World Diabetes Day 2020

Diabetes Mellitus is a condition when the body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin in the pancreas. Conversely, in some cases, insulin is produced sufficiently, but the cells display an inability to disseminate it appropriately in the body. In either case, the glucose levels in the blood increases and this condition are called hyperglycemia.

In the long run, diabetes if left untreated leads to damage of vital organs in the body and leads to permanent damage to the body. Diabetes mellitus has several symptoms. People are having this disease show signs of frequent urination, uncontrollable thirst, increased hunger, sudden weight loss, reduced vision and eyesight, changes in the foot soles, dry and itchy skin and many others.

As already discusses, diabetes as a disease cannot be entirely cured by medicines. It can be controlled and monitored through proper diet intake, practising a good exercise regimen, phytotherapy, injection of oral hypoglycaemic substances and consumption of specified quantity of insulin.

Approximately 422 million people have diabetes, according to the latest statistics. This number tells us the reason why we need to spread global awareness about the disease. Experts treating diabetes, nutritional consultants, dieticians, counsellors, doctors, nurses and medical advisors collaborate on this critical day to raise awareness about diabetes. It is a boon to patients suffering from the disease.

Medical experts advise the general public on the importance of maintaining a healthy balanced diet and the necessity to include fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet. Food plays a vital role in controlling blood glucose levels at an average level. The intake of grains, legumes, dairy foods and high protein diets help maintain a healthful lifestyle.

Diabetes can also be managed through an active lifestyle. Patients need to engage themselves more in physical activities; they should keep a check on their body weight, say not to sugar-coated foods and sweets, avoid refined flours, reduce beverages and most importantly, stay away from sweeteners.

World Diabetes Day is another way of telling the population not to use low-calorie sweeteners that have been doing the rounds in markets of late. Many people are unaware of their side effects, and medical companies have been advertising their brands for selling their products. Through campaigns and expert advice, wrong notions about the usage of these products can be tackled with.

World Diabetes Day 2020 Themes

Some of the previous year themes are celebrated below:

  • 2013 had a fascinating theme – “Protect the future: All about Diabetes education and prevention”.
  • 2014 hit the target right with foods, fads and diet with the theme “Go blue for your breakfast”.
  • 2015 kept its theme simple, yet very relatable. It said “Healthy Eating”.
  • 2016 focussed on eye health with the theme “Eyes on Diabetes”.
  • 2017 gave a year to the females with its pink coloured theme “Women and diabetes – the right to a healthy future”.
  • 2018-2019 gave two full-fledged years to diabetes in the genes. The theme was “Family and diabetes: Diabetes concerns that every family have”.
  • 2020 is dedicated to the genuine care extended by nurses in duty. The theme says” The Nurse and diabetes”.

World Diabetes Day Celebrations

World Diabetes Day is all about planned celebrations and healthy eating events. Let us discuss more in this section. Learning begins at home. Teach children at their school about healthy living habits and the importance of maintaining a functional and active lifestyle. They’ll take the message with them and raise awareness of their entire family. Arrange public speaking events at your society to raise awareness on diabetes prevention, care and treatments. Such informative speak-ups benefit a lot of people.

Take to your social media handles. Write at length about diabetes care and how to avoid diabetes. Walkathons and marathons are other beautiful ways to spread messages to the general public about symptoms of diabetes. Conduct a diabetes screening camp free of cost at selected places.

Spread the word on the fields arranged to the public through various channels. Apart from focusing entirely on diabetes care, encourage physical fitness activities and sports at sports clubs and schools/ colleges.


Diabetes is a chronic condition. Large parts of the world population are currently suffering from diabetes. We have to prioritize our health to lead a healthful lifestyle. Diabetes causes mental stress among patients. There is a need to spread a message regarding treatment available for diabetes mellitus. Many medical organizations have researched with the best medicines and procedures for the disease, yet there has been no complete cure till sight. With a healthy lifestyle in place, we can control and monitor blood glucose levels and thereby keep diabetes worries at bay.

Read more:


Morgan’s Sugar-Free Candy Floss

How the initiative began

In support of World Diabetes day on 14 November, Morgan’s Candy Floss worked together with chef Lesley Jacob from the Food and Beverage Institute and Dr Arnold van Dyk to create a suitable substitute that would enable children and adults with diabetes to taste and enjoy sugar-free candy floss without having to worry about blood-sugar spikes or side-effects.

The product

Morgan’s Sugar-free candy floss is made with a sugar-alcohol that is widely considered the safest sugar substitute for diabetics. Upon testing the product we found that even a half an hour after the subject has consumed the product the blood-sugar levels remain at a very safe, stable range. We would love to have it officially clinically tested in 2020, to ensure the product is a tested diabetic friendly product. The sugar-alcohol spins and tastes like real candy floss but, like candy floss, has a limited shelf life of 1 to 2 weeks depending on the conditions. It is sold in a 500ml transparent tub, which ensures it is protected from contamination, is perfect for retail, and is the preferred safe portion.

World Diabetes Day 2019

Last year, we sold over 500 units of sugar-free candy floss to everyone from corporates to hospitals and the everyday person. Demand for it quickly spread nationwide when a parent posted a picture of it on the facebook site for children with diabetes called, ‘Powered by Insulin’. Unfortunately, we had only planned and budgeted to sell these units in the month of November to raise money and awareness for DSA (Diabetes South Africa). We had tremendous success with it and are thinking about expanding a branch exclusively for Morgan’s Sugar-free Candy floss.


Morgan’s candy floss is owned and run by Morgan Pelser. A grade 11 student in Cambridge. Both the Normal and the Sugar-Free candy floss have registered barcodes.

Morgan’s Contact details: 

Morgan Pelser 079 347 8904


World Diabetes Day

14 November of each year marks the celebration of World Diabetes Day. Established in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation with support from WHO in response to growing concerns about the health and economic threat posed by diabetes, World Diabetes Day became an official UN day in 2006. The World Diabetes Day 2018 campaign promotes universal health coverage for affordable and equitable access to diabetes management, including improving the knowledge and capacities of people with diabetes and their families to take charge of their own care, to reduce economic hardship in households which have few strategies for coping with the economic burden of diabetes.

Diabetes – Key facts

  • The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
  • The global prevalence of diabetes* among adults over 18 years of age has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014 (1).
  • Diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in middle- and low-income countries.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
  • In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2012**.
  • Almost half of all deaths attributable to high blood glucose occur before the age of 70 years. WHO estimates that diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2016.
  • Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
  • Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.

In 2014, 8.5% of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes. In 2016, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths and in 2012 high blood glucose was the cause of another 2.2 million deaths.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known and it is not preventable with current knowledge.

Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent, or adult-onset) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes comprises the majority of people with diabetes around the world, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.

Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen.

Until recently, this type of diabetes was seen only in adults but it is now also occurring increasingly frequently in children.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia with blood glucose values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes, occurring during pregnancy.

Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. They and their children are also at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future.

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed through prenatal screening, rather than through reported symptoms.

Impaired glucose tolerance and impaired fasting glycaemia

Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) are intermediate conditions in the transition between normality and diabetes. People with IGT or IFG are at high risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes, although this is not inevitable.

What are common consequences of diabetes?

Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

  • Adults with diabetes have a two- to three-fold increased risk of heart attacks and strokes (1).
  • Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and eventual need for limb amputation.
  • Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness, and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. 2.6% of global blindness can be attributed to diabetes (2).
  • Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure (3).

How can the burden of diabetes be reduced?


Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:

  • achieve and maintain healthy body weight;
  • be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control;
  • eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats intake; and
  • avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Diagnosis and treatment

Early diagnosis can be accomplished through relatively inexpensive testing of blood sugar.

Treatment of diabetes involves diet and physical activity along with lowering blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.

Interventions that are both cost-saving and feasible in developing countries include:

  • blood glucose control, particularly in type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin, people with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medication, but may also require insulin;
  • blood pressure control; and
  • foot care.

Other cost saving interventions include:

  • screening and treatment for retinopathy (which causes blindness)
  • blood lipid control (to regulate cholesterol levels)
  • screening for early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease and treatment.

WHO response

WHO aims to stimulate and support the adoption of effective measures for the surveillance, prevention and control of diabetes and its complications, particularly in low and middle-income countries. To this end, WHO:

  • provides scientific guidelines for the prevention of major noncommunicable diseases including diabetes;
  • develops norms and standards for diabetes diagnosis and care;
  • builds awareness on the global epidemic of diabetes, marking World Diabetes Day (14 November); and
  • conducts surveillance of diabetes and its risk factors.

The WHO “Global report on diabetes” provides an overview of the diabetes burden, the interventions available to prevent and manage diabetes, and recommendations for governments, individuals, the civil society and the private sector.

The WHO “Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health” complements WHO’s diabetes work by focusing on population-wide approaches to promote healthy diet and regular physical activity, thereby reducing the growing global problem of overweight people and obesity.

* Defined as fasting blood glucose equal to or higher than 7 mmol/L, or on medication for raised blood glucose, or with a history of diagnosis of diabetes.

** High blood glucose is defined as a distribution of fasting plasma glucose in a population that is higher than the theoretical distribution that would minimize risks to health (derived from epidemiological studies). High blood glucose is a statistical concept, not a clinical or diagnostic category.


(1) Diabetes mellitus, fasting blood glucose concentration, and risk of vascular disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of 102 prospective studies. Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration.

Sarwar N, Gao P, Seshasai SR, Gobin R, Kaptoge S, Di Angelantonio et al. Lancet. 2010; 26;375:2215-2222.

(2) Causes of vision loss worldwide, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis.
Bourne RR, Stevens GA, White RA, Smith JL, Flaxman SR, Price H et al. Lancet Global Health 2013;1:e339-e349

(3) 2014 USRDS annual data report: Epidemiology of kidney disease in the United States.
United States Renal Data System. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD, 2014:188–210.



Global Health Estimates 2016: Deaths by Cause, Age, Sex, by Country and by Region

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