Despite having similar names, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are completely different diseases.

Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction and develops early in life. As a result of lifestyle factors such as inactivity and excess weight, type 2 diabetes develops over a long period of time and majority of cases are diagnosed in adults.


The cause of type 1 diabetes isn’t entirely clear, but family history is likely to play a role.

The cause of type 1 diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune reaction. The body’s immune system mistakenly sees healthy cells as foreign invaders in people with type 1 diabetes.

Insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are attacked and destroyed by the immune system. Insulin cannot be produced by the body after these beta cells are destroyed.

There is no clear explanation for why sometimes the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. Viral exposure, genetic factors, and environmental factors might play a part.


Type 2 diabetics have insulin resistance. Insulin is still produced by the body, but it cannot be used effectively by the body. A person with type 2 diabetes will have their pancreas produce extra insulin in an attempt to compensate. As a result of your body’s inability to use insulin effectively, glucose accumulates in your blood.

There are several lifestyle factors that may contribute to insulin resistance, such as inactivity, obesity, genetics and environmental factors.

To put it in simpler terms, blood sugar regulation by your body is affected by both of these chronic diseases. Your body uses glucose as fuel, but it needs a ‘key’ to enter your cells and that ‘key’ is insulin.

Insulin is not produced by people with type 1 diabetes. Think of it as being locked out without a key.

Insulin doesn’t work as well for people with type 2 diabetes, and they often don’t produce enough insulin later in the disease. It’s like having a broken key.

Chronically high blood sugar levels can be a result of either type of diabetes and complications may arise if left unmanaged. 

Next week we’ll explore the risk factors of type 2 diabetes, symptoms as well as prevention methods to better manage type 2 diabetes.  


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