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"Are you born with diabetes or do you get in later in life?"


I thought you were born with diabetes but my friend said that you can get it later in life. She says because I am a somewhat overweight that I could get it. Is this true? I have tried to slim down but cant.


What we normally think of as one disease, diabetes, is usually divided into two separate types. Recently, the two types of diabetes have come under new names: type one and type two, but for a very long time they were more frequently referred to as juvenile diabetes and adult-onset diabetes. Generally speaking diabetes signifies a body’s inability to adequate regulate blood sugar or glucose levels.

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The main organ charged with regulating blood sugar levels is the pancreas and it does this by a number of mechanisms, but the most important one is through secreting insulin. In truth, very few people are “born with” diabetes, but those that do have what is called type one or juvenile diabetes actually develop it in childhood. This type of diabetes results from the pancreas’s inability to effectively secrete insulin. And without insulin sugar levels rise very high causing damage to various organs and also keeping the body from appropriately using the sugar for energy. Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes is more related to a body’s inability to appropriately use the insulin that is secreted; someone with diabetes actually becomes “insulin-resistant.” Unlike, type one diabetes, type two diabetes is, in fact, related to obesity. As people become more and more overweight they generally become more and more resistant to insulin and consequently blood sugar levels rise. Eventually, they can become so resistant to insulin that their sugars stay high enough and they develop diabetes. If this continues for many years the pancreas can stop making insulin altogether very similar to type one diabetes. Your friend is correct that being overweight increases your chances, but the good news is that losing weight can also help prevent it or even reverse diabetes. In fact, this is one of the best things you can do. Your doctor can check your average blood sugar level by measuring your hemoglobin A1c and let you know how close you are to developing the disease. You should talk with your primary care provider more about this and he/she may be able to help you lose weight regardless of your sugar levels. Good luck!

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