The aim of World Diabetes Day is to raise awareness and educate people on some of the causes and risk factors of diabetes. Diabetes is a disease where the body no longer responds to levels of sugar in the blood. If the sugar levels drop too low, the body does not have enough energy to function. On the other hand, if there is too much sugar in the blood, then the sugar will be lost through urine and can cause further complications, including dehydration.
Approximately 4.7 million people in the UK have diabetes, with 90% of these suffering from type 2 diabetes. Eight percent suffer from type 1 diabetes and the remaining two percent suffer from rarer forms of diabetes1. Type 1 diabetes normally develops rapidly and is usually diagnosed in children. It is caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells, which means insulin is no longer made in the body. Insulin is a molecule made by the pancreas and is responsible for instructing cells to take up sugar from the blood (see animation above). Currently, Type 1 diabetes is treated by giving insulin, usually as an injection, in place of naturally produced insulin.
Type 2 diabetes normally occurs later in life and has a much slower onset. Patients with type 2 diabetes usually still produce their own insulin but their bodies have stopped responding to it. The severity of symptoms can be eased by good diet and exercise. Obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, with 12.3 million people at increased risk1. Diabetes can result in many complications, including heart failure, sight loss and amputations. If you would like to find out more about the biology of diabetes, then visit the diabetes sections of this site found in the links below. Additionally, if you are involved in the teaching of key stage 3, GCSE or A level science, one way to get involved with World Diabetes Day 2019 is through use of the slides and worksheets to the right.