Type II Diabetes

By: CPMC Genetic Counseling Staff
Reviewed by: Dr. Dyanne P. Westerberg, DO, Cooper University Hospital

Type 2 diabetes, also called adult onset diabetes, occurs when the body cannot use insulin properly; insulin is used to break down sugar in the foods we eat. Without proper treatment, type 2 diabetes can cause organ damage.

Type 1 Diabetes vs. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes. About 7% of people diagnosed with diabetes in adulthood have type 1 diabetes; the remaining 93% have type 2 diabetes. For example: if 100 adults are diagnosed with diabetes, approximately 7 of them would be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be controlled with diet or oral medications, but insulin also may be required in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

The Role of Insulin in Diabetes
Insulin is a hormone made by special cells in the pancreas called beta cells. Every time you eat, your body breaks down the sugars in your food into a simpler sugar called glucose. At the same time, the beta cells of your pancreas release insulin. Then it is insulin's job to take the sugar from the blood into the cells of different organs in the body. If there is not enough insulin in the body or if cells ignore (do not respond to) insulin, then sugar will build up in the blood instead of going into cells. The amount of sugar in your blood at a particular time is called your blood sugar level. An excess of sugar in the blood can cause many problems, the two biggest being:

  • Your cells can quickly become starved for energy.
  • Many organs in the body – in particular the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart – can become damaged without the right amount of sugar.

How Common is Type 2 Diabetes?
It is estimated that 10% of all people 20 years old and older have type 2 diabetes; this is equal to 23.5 million people in the United States alone.

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Learn more about Type 2 Diabetes, from symptoms to understanding your risk, through the links below.

Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Learn more about Type II Diabetes [ Learn More › ]

Risk Factors

Both genetic and non-genetic factors play a role in Type II Diabetes [ Learn More › ]


Reduce Your Risk

Risk-reducing behaviors for Type II Diabetes [ Learn More › ]

The CPMC Study

Learn how the CPMC Study identifies your risk for Type II Diabetes [ Learn More › ]