What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Your body breaks down most of the food you eat into sugar (glucose) and releases it into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

With diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart diseasevision loss, and kidney disease.

There isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can really help. Other things you can do to help:

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 96 million American adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, more than 80% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetesheart disease, and stroke. Click the image to the right take a quick quiz and find out if you may have pre-Diabetes.


Who is at risk for diabetes? 

  • Type 1 Diabetes
    • Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an immune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). Risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not as clear as for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Known risk factors include:
    • Family history: Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 1 diabetes.
    • Age: You can get type 1 diabetes at any age, but it usually develops in children, teens, or young adults.
    • Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 2 Diabetes
    • You’re at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
    • Have prediabetes.
    • Are overweight.
    • Are 45 years or older.
    • Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
    • Are physically active less than 3 times a week.
    • Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds.
    • Are an African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native person. Some Pacific Islanders and Asian American people are also at higher risk.

What are the signs of diabetes? 

Most people with diabetes do not recognize the signs. If you should experience any of these symptoms, contact your physician: 
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Blurred vision

What can you do to lower the risk for diabetes?

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a low fat diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. Make healthy food choices including eating less fat (especially saturated fat), choosing lean meats, switching to low fat or fat free dairy products and cutting back on foods high in cholesterol, such as egg yolks, dairy products and high fat meats and poultry. Eat foods high in fiber like oatmeal, oat bran, dried beans and peas, fruits and vegetables. Watch your salt and sodium intake.
  • Get thirty minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Aerobic exercise helps keep weight off, improve circulation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and strengthen the heart!
  • Talk to your physician about the "ABC's of Diabetes."


American Diabetes Association
CDC Diabetes Basics
CDC Prediabetes
American Heart Association