Diabetes is a common life-long health condition. There are 3 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated 850,000 people who have the condition but don’t know it.
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because your pancreas does not produce any insulin, or not enough, to help glucose enter your body’s cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body’s cells, where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives. It is vital for life.
Glucose comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver. Carbohydrate comes from many different kinds of foods and drink, including starchy foods such as bread, potatoes and chapatis; fruit; some dairy products; sugar and other sweet foods.
If you have diabetes, your body cannot make proper use of this glucose so it builds up in the blood and isn’t able to be used as fuel.
There are two main types of diabetes:
'Explaining diabetes' animation
Our short animation explains how the body works:
- unaffected by diabetes
- with Type 1 diabetes
- with Type 2 diabetes.