Diabetes Facts

Diabetes Ribbon

What is the difference between Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are serious. There is no such thing as mild diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. People with this form of diabetes need injections of insulin every day in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with Type 1 Diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy lives.

Type 2 Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. It is the most common form of diabetes, at least 90% of all cases of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can occur at any age. Type 2 Diabetes may remain undetected for many years and the diagnosis is often made when a complication appears or a routine blood or urine glucose test is done. It is often, but not always, associated with overweight or obesity, which itself can cause insulin resistance and lead to high blood glucose levels. People with type 2 diabetes can often initially manage their condition through exercise and diet. However, over time most people will require oral drugs and or insulin.

Gestational Diabetes (GDM) occurs during pregnancy. Usually around the 24th week many women develop gestational diabetes. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes doesn’t mean that you had diabetes before you conceived, or that you will have diabetes after giving birth. It develops in one in 25 pregnancies worldwide and is associated with complications to both mother and baby. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy but women with GDM and their children are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

What are the signs and symptoms of Diabetes?

Individuals can experience different signs and symptoms of diabetes, and sometimes there may be no signs. The development of Type 1 Diabetes is usually sudden and dramatic while the symptoms can often be mild or absent in people with Type 2 Diabetes, making this type of diabetes hard to detect.

If you show these signs and symptoms, consult a health professional. Some of the signs commonly experienced include:

• Urinating often

• Feeling very thirsty

• Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating

• Extreme fatigue

• Blurry vision

• Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal

• Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)

• Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

How is diabetes diagnosed?

There are several ways to diagnose diabetes. Testing should be carried out in a health care setting (such as your doctor’s office or a lab).

A1C The A1C test measures your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. The advantages of being diagnosed this way are that you don’t have to fast or drink anything.

• Diabetes is diagnosed at an A1C of greater than or equal to 6.5%

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) This test checks your fasting blood glucose levels. Fasting means after not having anything to eat or drink (except water) for at least 8 hours before the test. This test is usually done first thing in the morning, before breakfast.

• Diabetes is diagnosed at fasting blood glucose of greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (also called the OGTT) The OGTT is a two-hour test that checks your blood glucose levels before and 2 hours after you drink a special sweet drink. It tells the doctor how your body processes glucose.

• Diabetes is diagnosed at 2 hour blood glucose of greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl

Random (also called Casual) Plasma Glucose Test. This test is a blood check at any time of the day when you have severe diabetes symptoms.

• Diabetes is diagnosed at blood glucose of greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition when your blood glucose is higher than normal but not high enough to be diabetes. This condition puts you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Results indicating prediabetes are:

• An A1C of 5.7% – 6.4%

• Fasting blood glucose of 100 – 125 mg/dl

• An OGTT 2 hour blood glucose of 140 mg/dl – 199 mg/dl

What are the statistics of Diabetes?

Total prevalence of diabetes of children and adults in the United States is 25.8 million. 8.3% of the population have diabetes.

Diagnosed: 18.8 million people

Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people

Prediabetes: 79 million people

Under 20 years of age

• 215,000, or 0.26% of all people in this age group have diabetes

• About 1 in every 400 children and adolescents has diabetes

Age 20 years or older

• 25.6 million, or 11.3% of all people in this age group have diabetes

Age 65 years or older

• 10.9 million, or 26.9% of all people in this age group have diabetes


• 13.0 million, or 11.8% of all men aged 20 years or older have diabetes


• 12.6 million, or 10.8% of all women aged 20 years or older have diabetes

The 2007-2009 national survey data for people diagnosed with diabetes, aged 20 years or older include the following prevalence by race/ethnicity:

• 7.1% of non-Hispanic whites

• 8.4% of Asian Americans

• 12.6% of non-Hispanic blacks

• 11.8% of Hispanics

Morbidity and Mortality

• In 2007, diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022 death certificates. This means that diabetes contributed to a total of 231,404 deaths.

What are statictics and complications of African Americans living with Diabetes?

Compared to the general population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes:

    • 4.9 million, or 18.7 percent of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
    • African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites.

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, and certain populations experience an even greater threat. Good diabetes management can help reduce your risk; however, many people are not even aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications.

    • Blindness

      African Americans are almost 50 percent as likely to develop diabetic retinopathy as non-Hispanic whites.

    • Kidney Disease

      African Americans are 2.6 to 5.6 times as likely to suffer from kidney disease.

    • Amputations

      African Americans are 2.7 times as likely to suffer from lower-limb amputations.

Learn many more facts and resources at the American Diabetes Association’s Live Empowered/African-American Programs.

What health complications are caused by Diabetes?

Heart disease and stroke

• In 2004, heart disease was noted on 68% of diabetes-related death certificates among people aged 65 years or older.

• In 2004, stroke was noted on 16% of diabetes-related death certificates among people aged 65 years or older.

• Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes.

• The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes.

High blood pressure

• In 2005-2008, of adults aged 20 years or older with self-reported diabetes, 67% had blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg or used prescription medications for hypertension.


• Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years.

• In 2005-2008, 4.2 million (28.5%) people with diabetes aged 40 years or older had diabetic retinopathy, and of these, almost 0.7 million (4.4% of those with diabetes) had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe vision loss.

Kidney disease

• Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of new cases in 2008.

• In 2008, 48,374 people with diabetes began treatment for end-stage kidney disease in the United States.

• In 2008, a total of 202,290 people with end-stage kidney disease due to diabetes were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant in the United States.

Nervous system disease (Neuropathy)

• About 60% to 70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage.


• More than 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.

• In 2006, about 65,700 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes.

Can Diabetes be prevented?

At present, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.

You can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle. These positive steps, you can stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of diabetes:

  • Keep a balanced and nutritious diet
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Decrease stress and depression
  • Improve your sleep patterns

See the American Diabetes Association for more information.