Two Types Of Diabetes

from Yolanda Evans, MD

Did You Know that there are 2 Types of Diabetes, and that one can be Related to Being Overweight?


Diabetes is a disease that affects how our bodies use glucose, the kind of sugar that our bodies use for energy.  There are 2 types of diabetes.  Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. In this type of diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas.  The pancreas is the organ that makes insulin, the chemical that helps to control glucose levels.  Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood, and people with this type need to take shots of insulin everyday.  It is not linked with being overweight.


Type 2 diabetes is linked to weight, and especially to being overweight. Before, it almost always started only in adults, but now more kids who are overweight are being diagnosed with this type.  In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but the body develops a resistance to it. Sometimes people with Type 2 diabetes need insulin shots, but often healthy eating habits and exercise, along with medicines (pills) can help control it. 


In 2003, there were about 15,000 children and teens diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes  and about 3,700 diagnosed with Type 2.  It might not sound like very many kids have Type 2 diabetes, but that is a lot more than almost zero 15 years ago! Diabetes is a very serious disease. It is linked with kidney problems, slow healing, and blindness. It can also cause serious problems with the feet, arms and legs.  The good news is that many times Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or helped by eating healthy foods, losing extra weight, and doing more exercise.


Here are some ways parents can help to prevent Type 2 diabetes:

  1. Encourage exercise.  Make it fun for your kids to play.  If you can, go out and be active as a family.  Exercise can be as simple as going for a family walk after dinner or having your kids go with you to walk a family pet.
  2. Limit soda and fast food.  Eat fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack.  Limit soda, juice, candy, and fast food. Eating healthy includes eating a wide variety of foods. 
  3. See you child’s doctor if you are concerned.  If your child is overweight or if there is a family history of diabetes check in with your child’s doctor.  Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can include being very thirsty, peeing(urinating) a lot, or having a dark, velvety rash on the back of the neck or armpits. Your doctor may get blood tests and check your child’s urine for signs of diabetes. 
  4. If your child is diagnosed with diabetes, their doctor can help you and your child come up with a plan for managing weight loss in a healthy way. This may include meeting with a nutritionist to go over how to eat a balanced, healthy diet.



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Children and Diabetes: SEARCH for Diabetes in youth

American Diabetes Association