Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Can anyone get diabetes?"


Is it only overweight people that get diabetes or is everyone at risk? I eat a lot of sugary and fatty foods, but I also exercise a lot so I am not overweight. Am I still at risk for being diabetic?


There are two different types of diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), and both have a very different etiology and treatment. Classically Type 1 diabetes was called "juvenile diabetes" or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). This is because it occurs due to a lack of the insulin making beta cells within the islet of Langerhans in the pancreas.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Primary care-doctors near you

This can either be idiopathic (meaning we don't know what caused it), or auto-immune (meaning that the immune system attacked its own pancreas cells for some reason). Insulin normally acts to cause sugar to go from the blood stream into cells so that it can be used as energy. This type (type 1) usually presents in childhood (hence the "juvenile" name) and these people have to inject exogenous insulin (hence "insulin dependent"). Type 2 diabetes is typically thought to be the result of way too much sugar in the blood stream causing constant high levels of insulin, and a resulting desensitization to its actions. Hence some refer to this type as the "insulin resistant" diabetes. While classically this type of diabetes is seen in overweight adults, there is currently an unfortunate trend of overeating in children, and it has become more frequent in children as well. I would recommend making an appointment with your general practitioner (family practice doctor) to discuss your personal risks, etc. It is great that you exercise, but from the sounds of it your eating habits aren't very good, and that can definitely have long-term health impacts.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.