Type 1 and type 2 diabetes


Greg Foot explains the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the role insulin plays in controlling glucose levels

Diabetes is a condition where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body's cells lose their sensitivity to it.

Blood glucose levels will increase and become uncontrollably high.

There are two types of diabetes - type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a disorder in which the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. This can be detected from an early age. It is characterised by uncontrolled high blood glucose levels and it can be controlled by injecting insulin.

A medical diabetes kit
A medical diabetes kit

People with Type 1 diabetes also have to monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day. Their levels of physical activity and their diet affect the amount of insulin needed.

They can help to control their blood glucose level by being careful with their diet, such as eating foods that will not cause large increases in blood sugar level, and by exercising, which can lower blood glucose levels due to increased respiration in the muscles.

Type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the person's body cells no longer respond to insulin. It is more common in older people, though since 2000, it is now becoming common in young people also.

Type 2 diabetes can usually be controlled by a carbohydrate controlled diet and an exercise regime. After a meal, carbohydrate is digested into glucose, which raises the overall blood glucose level. There is a correlation between rising levels of obesity in the general population and increasing levels of type 2 diabetes.

The correlation between obesity and type 2 diabetesThe correlation between obesity and type 2 diabetes


Describe the pattern in this data. [5 marks]

The graph shows a range of data from 1990 to 2000. Mean body weight has steadily increased from approximately 72.5 kg in 1990, to 75.5 kg in 1997 up to just over 77 kg in 2000. [2 marks]

This matches a general increase in the number of people with type 2 diabetes from 1990 to 2000. For example, the percentage was just below 5% in 1990 up to just below 7.5% in 2000. This shows an overall increase of 2.5% over 10 years. [2 marks]

There are dips and minor peaks within the graph, and these may be due to the introduction of a particular type of food, or other additional factors such as lifestyle, or reporting of diabetes cases. [1 mark]

Tips: Use the labels on the axes to help you describe the relationship between the data in the graphs.