What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. The most common forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes - Commonly called "juvenile diabetes, it's usually diagnosed in children and young adults. In Type 1 diabetes, insulin is not produced by the body.

Type 2 Diabetes - The most common form of diabetes, typically diagnosed in adulthood. In Type 2 diabetes, either the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. When glucose builds up in the blood rather than going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.

Gestational diabetes - Occurs when a pregnant woman without a prior history of diabetes develops high blood glucose. Typically is it only present during the course of the pregnancy.

Diabetes and Obesity

Obesity increases risk of diabetes. Almost 90 percent of people newly diagnosed with diabetes are overweight or obese, according to the American Diabetes Association. An obese person has double the risk of developing diabetes. A severely obese person has ten times the risk. Approximately 95 percent of all diabetics in the United States are type 2 diabetics. Complications of diabetes include heart disease, blindness, nerve damage and kidney damage. People with diabetes can lose limbs from nerve damage, ulcers and infections.

Improvements in or remission of diabetes with bariatric surgery can partially be explained by effects on glucose metabolism and changes in gut hormones that favor improvements in diabetes. Questions remain regarding the role that weight loss surgery can play in treating, and potentially curing, diabetes.

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