Epidemiology and Risk Factors of Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes is an umbrella term covering several metabolic disorders primarily characterized by consistently high blood sugar levels. It includes type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 is characterized by absolute insulin deficiency due to the damaged pancreatic beta cells (Guglielmi et al., 2018). Because of its onset during childhood, it was also formerly known as juvenile diabetes. Type 2 is characterized by relative insulin deficiency, meaning the levels of insulin produced are insufficient to cope with the blood sugar levels. It is at least ten times more prevalent than type 1 and commonly associated with such risk factors as high body fat percentage, obesity, and lack of exercise (Levy, 2018). Gestational diabetes refers to the condition in women with no pre-existing diabetes developing high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, which then usually returns to normal after giving birth (Moore, 2018). Thus, all three types are characterized by increased blood sugar levels over a long time yet have different causes and treatments.

One of the medications to counter type 2 diabetes is metformin. This drug addresses the condition by reducing the amount of glucose absorbed from food intake or produced by the patient’s liver to decrease overall blood sugar level (“Metformin,” 2020). Its administration depends on the type of the drug, usually twice or thrice daily as a tablet, once or twice daily as a liquid, and once per day with for an extended-release tablet (“Metformin,” 2020). Metformin should be administered with meals at exactly the dosage prescribed by the doctor. In case it comes in tablets, patients need to swallow them whole rather than chew or otherwise dissolve them.

Non-pharmacological lifestyle interventions are also crucial for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and dietary considerations play a central role among these. First of all, dietary changes serve to decrease body mass, which is particularly important because weight gain is one of the most common complications in type 2 diabetes (Riccardi et al., 2018). Effects of weight loss and exercise prove statistically more significant than pharmacological interventions in managing type 2 diabetes, which signifies the importance of dietary considerations (Levy, 2018). Secondly, the diet composition should aim at reducing blood sugar levels, which necessitates a diet moderately rich in carbohydrates and fibers, low in sugar and fat, and not excessive in protein (Riccardi et al., 2018). In practical terms, it means a diet based largely on legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with a modest intake of low-fat meats and sweets (Riccardi et al., 2018). Avoiding sugar altogether is generally not necessary, and the management of calorie intake is more important overall.

Type 2 diabetes can cause both short-term and long-term impacts. The major short-term threat in type 2 diabetes is hypoglycemia, which can be caused by insulin treatment (Levy, 2018). In the long run, type 2 diabetes can also damage the eyes by causing retinopathy and kidneys by causing diabetic nephropathy, which is a fairly common complication (Levy, 2018). Diabetic patients also suffer higher risks of infections and peripheral neuropathy (Levy, 2018). Aside from hypoglycemia caused by insulin medications, the short-term impacts of some pharmacological treatments may include bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, headache, and others as side effects (“Metformin,” 2020). Finally, high body mass index and obesity associated with type 2 diabetes can lead to cardiovascular events and excessive strain on the musculoskeletal system.


Guglielmi, G., Leslie, R. D., & Pozzilli, P. (2018). Epidemiology and risk factors of type 1 diabetes. In E. Bonoro & R. A. DeFronzo (Eds.), Diabetes epidemiology, genetics, pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment (pp. 41-54). Springer.

Levy, D. (2018). Practical diabetes care. (4th ed.) Wiley Blackwell.

Metformin. (2020). Medline Plus. Web.

Moore, L. E. (2018). Screening, diagnosis, and management of gestational diabetes. In L. E. Moore (Ed.), Diabetes in pregnancy: The complete guide to management (pp. 45-60). Springer.

Riccrdi, G., Vitale, M., & Giacco, R. (2018). Treatment of diabetes with lifestyle changes: Diet. In E. Bonoro & R. A. DeFronzo (Eds.), Diabetes epidemiology, genetics, pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment (pp. 497-512). Springer.

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