Shamard Charles, MD, is a physician-journalist and public health doctor who advances health policy through health communication and health promotion.
Ana Maria Kausel, MD, is a double board-certified endocrinologist affiliated with Mount Sinai St. Luke's/Mount Sinai West in New York City.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which blood sugar (glucose) levels are excessively high. It’s the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 34 million Americans, or just over 10% of the U.S. population. Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90% to 95% of all diabetes cases in the country.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with a range of lifestyle risk factors including obesity and lack of exercise. It usually develops in those over the age of 45 and occurs when the body becomes less sensitive to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin
This article looks at the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, its causes and risk factors, and the life expectancy of those with the condition. It also covers ways to prevent diabetes.
Data shows that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has been increasing in the United States and around the world for the past three decades. Type 2 diabetes rates have risen at such an alarming rate that public health officials have deemed this condition to be a public health crisis. 
Over 34 million Americans—that's about 1 in 10 people—are currently affected by Type 2 diabetes.
Reports on the global burden of diabetes suggest that approximately 462 million individuals around the world are affected by type 2 diabetes. Americans account for just over 7% of the world's cases.
In total, an estimated 6.28% of the world’s population is impacted by type 2 diabetes, clocking in at a prevalence rate of 6,059 cases per 100,000 people. That number is expected to rise to 7,079 individuals per 100,000 people by 2030. Even more, over one million people die every year from type 2 diabetes, making it the ninth leading cause of death worldwide.
Type 2 diabetes can greatly affect your health, but how long you can live with the condition depends on the timeliness of your diagnosis and treatment. Life expectancy is also affected by how well you manage your blood sugar levels and your ability to avoid factors that raise the risk of complications. These risk factors include smoking, lack of exercising, poor diet, and maintaining an unhealthy weight.
Research shows that on average type 2 diabetes is associated with a 1.3 to 2.0 times higher risk of early death, which is most often the result of cardiovascular disease.
Still, some factors contribute to a better outlook for people with diabetes. New medications and screening techniques have improved diagnostics and treatment, and a renewed emphasis on eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight can make a difference.

The older you get, the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes—regardless of your genetics, weight, or eating habits. That's because the cells' ability to respond to insulin, called insulin sensitivity, decreases with age, especially after age 45.
When cells become more resistant to insulin (insulin resistance), it makes it harder for blood sugar to be effectively removed from the bloodstream, which causes blood sugar levels to rise excessively high.
Scientists theorize that the pancreas “ages” as well, losing its ability to pump insulin as efficiently as it did when we were younger.
A diagnosis of diabetes is usually met with a ton of questions. Did I inherit this condition? Are my children at risk? Could I have prevented this, or was I genetically predisposed to get this all along?
The answers are complex, but research has shown that genetics play a role in type 2 diabetes. In fact, it is now believed that many people inherit a predisposition to the disease, but something in your environment triggers it. Genetics alone don't explain why one person develops type 2 diabetes and another does not. 
Type 2 diabetes has a strong genetic component—more so than Type 1 diabetes—as indicated by twin studies that show that if one twin has the condition the other twin is three to four times as likely to get it. Similarly, family history seems to play a large role since obesity, which is significantly linked to diabetes, and diabetes itself are often seen in both parents and their children. 

Additionally, race and ethnicity play a mysterious role in whether or not you're more likely to develop diabetes. People who identify as African-American, Latinx, Pacific-Islander, or Alaskan Native (AI/AN) have a higher-than-normal rate of type 2 diabetes. Studies show more than 120 gene variants have been identified as linked to causing type 2 diabetes.

Your diet is one of the most important factors in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and extending your life expectancy when you have type 2 diabetes.
Managing blood sugar can be difficult either because your pancreas isn't making enough insulin or the insulin it makes isn't being used efficiently. Learning what to eat and what not to eat, portion control, and how to meet your dietary needs are paramount to leading a healthy, symptom-free life.
There are some diets, sometimes called “diabetic diets” that have been proven to keep blood sugars within a healthy range. These diets all encourage high fiber intake, little or no added sugar, complex carbs, and avoidance of foods high in trans and saturated fats. The goal is to provide you with the macronutrients you need while cutting the simple carbs that lead to spikes in blood sugar. 
While there's no one-size-fits-all diabetic diet, it's important to note that there are some well-studied meal plans that have been shown to lower your risk of medical complications as a result of type 2 diabetes. These meal plans include:
Type 2 diabetes is a largely preventable disease if you know the risk factors and take immediate steps to limit their negative impact on your health. 
The risk factors for diabetes include: 
The American Diabetes Association recommends that most adults begin diabetes screening at the age of 45. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for people 35 and up who are overweight or obese.
No matter your age, it’s never too early to start an anti-diabetes lifestyle that includes:
BMI is the most commonly used measure to correlate weight and height. It uses weight and height to try and estimate body fat. The resulting number is then used to categorize people as underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. BMI is not perfect, however, and does not account for other factors that determine body composition like age, muscle mass, or sex. BMI calculations may, for example, overestimate body fat in athletes or in older people.
Obesity is often associated with and first thought of when many people think of type 2 diabetes, but hypertension, heart disease, hyperlipidemia, obstructive sleep apnea, and chronic kidney disease are also conditions that can be caused or made worse by diabetes.
Risk factors for many of these conditions overlap with risk factors for diabetes. Thus, lifestyle changes and other treatments that help you manage or prevent diabetes can also lower the chances you’ll have problems from these comorbidities.
If you have certain risk factors, like excess belly fat or a sedentary lifestyle, you may want to work with your healthcare provider to assess your diabetes risk.
Type 2 diabetes is a manageable condition, but early detection and treatment under the care of a trusted medical professional are key. With the help of a diabetes care team, you can formulate a plan with reachable goals and figure out the best course of action moving forward.
Type 2 diabetes affects more than 34 million Americans or just over 10% of the U.S. population—and that number is expected to rise over the next decade. This condition is considered public health crisis.
While there's no one cause of type 2 diabetes, it's largely thought of as a lifestyle disease. Avoiding the following habits can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it's important to manage your blood sugar levels by eating a healthy, low-sugar diet, exercising regularly, and losing weight. These strategies can help you avoid health complications from diabetes.
If you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or are worried because you're at risk for developing the condition, don't allow yourself to feel discouraged. There are many ways to take control of your health. Educating yourself about how to manage your blood sugar, eat well, and achieve a healthy weight is the first step. Taking action is the next. The better you control your diabetes and take hold of your overall health the more likely it is that your quality of life will not be compromised by this disease. 
Type 1 diabetes is an inherited autoimmune disorder characterized by the destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It appears early in life. Type 2 diabetes is a diet-related condition characterized by obesity and insulin resistance that develops over time.
Early signs of diabetes include fatigue, changes in vision, increases in thirst, excessive urination, unexplained weight loss, and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. A urine glucose test is a quick and cheap screening tool that can be used to detect sugar in the urine, a subtle sign of potential diabetes. A blood glucose test or a hemoglobin A1c is used to confirm the diagnosis.
Prediabetes is an early warning sign that you may be headed towards full-blown type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes means you have higher-than-normal blood sugar (glucose), but it's not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.
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By Shamard Charles, MD, MPH
Shamard Charles, MD, MPH is a public health physician and journalist. He has held positions with major news networks like NBC reporting on health policy, public health initiatives, diversity in medicine, and new developments in health care research and medical treatments.

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