What Causes Diabetes and How Can We Prevent It?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body cannot properly use blood sugar (glucose). The exact cause of this malfunction is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors play an important role. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction or damage of insulin-producing cells, while type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance due to obesity and high cholesterol levels. Other risk factors include a family history of diabetes, age, ethnicity, and lifestyle choices.

To reduce the risk of developing diabetes, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and get regular physical activity. People who are overweight should talk to their doctor about getting tested for type 2 diabetes. Those with prediabetes can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes such as losing weight and exercising regularly. The CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program offers a lifestyle change program that can help people make these changes and stick to them.

People of Asian descent may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes with a lower BMI than other ethnicities. Monogenic forms of diabetes are rare, accounting for only 1 to 5 percent of all diabetes cases found in young people. The Compact brings together all stakeholders to work on a shared vision of reducing the risk of diabetes and ensuring that all people diagnosed with diabetes have access to equitable, comprehensive, affordable and quality treatment and care.