Diabetes is a disease that’s characterized by high blood sugar, which doctors refer to as hyperglycemia. What makes type 2 diabetes different from type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and other types of diabetes is the underlying cause of high blood sugar. In type 2 diabetes, the two main contributors to high blood sugar are insulin resistance and reduced production of insulin by the pancreas.
Prevalence of Diabetes
- More than 29 million people in the United States – almost 10 percent of the total population – have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- The vast majority of those people (90 to 95 percent) have type 2 diabetes.
- About 8.1 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed.
- Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death among Americans, according to the CDC.
- If current trends continue, one of every three adults in the United States will have some form of diabetes by 2050.
- The CDC also estimates there were 1.7 million newly diagnosed cases of diabetes among people aged 20 and older in the United States in 2012 (the most recent year for which statistics are available).
- Worldwide, about 347 million people currently have diabetes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And children, who were rarely diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the past, now account for a growing proportion of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes Treatment
Treatment for type 2 diabetes includes dietary changes, regular physical activity, and usually one or more blood-sugar-lowering drugs. Most people start with the oral diabetes drug metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza), then increase the dose of metformin or add other oral drugs as needed to maintain blood sugar control.
Several new injected drugs can also be effective at helping to control blood sugar. Although type 2 diabetes used to be called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, many people with type 2 diabetes eventually need to use insulin for optimal blood sugar control. This occurs because the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin to keep up, not because you don’t try hard enough to control your blood sugar. Everyone’s type 2 diabetes treatment is different — and will likely change over time due to age and lifestyle choices.