What’s the Difference Between Type 1 & 2 Diabetes

type1 vs type2

According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. Out of these, 8.1 million have undiagnosed diabetes while 1.25 million have type 1 diabetes.

Worryingly, 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes annually. The problem with diabetes is it can cause hypertension, hypoglycemia, kidney failure, diabetic retinopathy, blindness and even death.

Below is a detailed look at the differences between type 1 and 2 diabetes.


Type 1 diabetes mostly affects children and young adults. As such, some physicians refer to it as juvenile diabetes. In comparison, type 2 diabetes is more common in adults and the elderly.

Furthermore, the US Department of Health & Human Services says that 90% of people with type 1 diabetes develop diabetic retinopathy within 25 years of diagnosis while their offspring are three times more likely to have major birth defects compared to the general population.


Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes affecting 90 to 95 out of every 100 people diagnosed with diabetes. On the other hand, type 1 diabetes is rare occurring in 5 to 10 out of every 100 people with diabetes.

Moreover, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the prevalence of type 1 diabetes among people 20 years and younger increased by 21% between 2001 and 2009.

Figures published by the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) show that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes nearly tripled between 1960 and 2010.

Insulin production and usage

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to secrete insulin. Consequently, the body is unable to transport and utilize glucose efficiently.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes occurs when fails to utilize insulin properly leading to insulin resistance. This causes the body to produce increasingly more insulin that goes unutilized. Fortunately, insulin therapy and even weight loss can enable people with diabetes to lead long and healthy lives.

Blood sugar levels

People with type 1 diabetes are prone to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) because their bodies do not produce any insulin at all. On the other hand, people with type 2 diabetes rarely experience hypoglycemia.

Nevertheless, certain medications including beta-blockers, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOs), insulin, quinine, haloperidol, pentamidine, SLT2 inhibitors, Bactrim, sulfonylureas and thiazolidinediones may cause hypoglycemia in diabetics. This is according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Type 2 diabetes can be delayed/prevented through a combination of regular exercise, healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Actually, obese people can improve their health outcomes by losing as little as 5% of their total bodyweight, the ASBMS reports. Unfortunately, the aforementioned solutions would not work for type 1 diabetes.

In fact, there is no known way of preventing type 1 diabetes.


Type 1 and 2 diabetes are diabetes variants that affect approximately 30 million Americans. Of the two, type 2 diabetes is the most common affecting 95% of those diagnosed with diabetes.

In addition, type 2 diabetes tends to affect adults while type 1 diabetes is more common in children.