What is diabetes?

Find out more about diabetes – from how to control blood sugar levels by eating a healthier balanced diet, to helpful tips on cooking for people with diabetes.

There are 3.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, and an estimated 549,000 people have the condition but don’t know it.

Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high, because the body cannot use it properly.

There are 2 types of diabetes:

Type 1: insulin dependent

Type 1 diabetes develops when the body produces no insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes usually appears in people under 40, most often in childhood. It is treated by insulin injections, improving diet and increasing physical activity.

Type 2: non-insulin dependent

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body does not produce enough insulin, or when the body is unable to use the insulin produced. This usually appears in people over 40 who may be overweight or doing little or no exercise. It’s usually treated by diet alone, or by diet and medication.

Food and diabetes

Bean, wild rice and avocado salad recipe

If you have type 2 diabetes, a balanced diet and active lifestyle can help control blood glucose levels. Get cooking tips to help control blood sugar with our useful guide to healthier eating with diabetes.

Diabetes explained

Does too much sugar cause diabetes? What are the 6 symptoms of diabetes? Find the answers to these questions and more in our diabetes frequently asked questions.

For more information on living with diabetes:

Download our guide to diabetes

More about healthier eating