What is diabetes?

Today is World Diabetes Day (WDD) – Diabetes  is a complicated condition that takes many different forms. It happens when blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high because your body is either not producing enough insulin, the insulin it produces is not effective, or  your body can’t produce insulin at all. Insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use glucose from carbohydrates as energy, or to store the glucose for future use. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the main types of diabetes1. Type 2 is by far the most common – around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Obesity or overweight
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased age

Access to Diabetes Care

WDD, raises awareness each year of the growing health concerns relating to diabetes. This year marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin by Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best in 1922. This discovery  was one of the major medical discoveries of the 20th century, and amazingly the scientists made the insulin available to diabetes patients without charge. The accessibility of insulin therapy led to the production and use of insulin which spread across the world.


This year’s theme is Access to Diabetes Care and since 1 in 10 adults were living with diabetes by 2021 this is an important topic. The aim of WDD is to “provide education to protect tomorrow” by raising awareness of the vital need for better access to diabetes education.

There have been decades of innovation in diabetic healthcare  but action has to be taken to support the rising numbers of diabetes cases.   The number of adults living with diabetes is expected to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045.

Further information

Living with diabetes? Caring for someone with diabetes? Want to improve your understanding? The Understanding Diabetes Platform has free interactive courses for different aspects of diabetes care and management.

Find out more here https://www.understandingdiabetes.org/

The WDD campaign was launched by the World Health Organisation and the International Diabetes Federation in 1991. To learn more about the campaign, click here  http://worlddiabetesday.org/about/

Diabetes UK are a charity providing information and support for people with diabetes or supporting friends and family with diabetes. They have a survey that helps you identify your risk of getting type 2 diabetes here: https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/ . In addition, they also have support groups, information to help with diet and lifestyle, as well as running ongoing research in diabetes care. To access their resources click here https://www.diabetes.org.uk/

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  1. Diabetes: The Basics. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics (accessed on 01/11/2022).