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Type 2 diabetes in young people

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 85–90% of all people with diabetes. It usually occurs in adults, but younger people—and even children—are now developing this type of diabetes.

Unlike someone with type 1 diabetes, with type 2 diabetes the body still produces insulin, but it is not produced in the amount the body needs and it does not work effectively.

Read more in our fact sheet Understanding type 2 diabetes.

Read more about type 2 diabetes in children and young adults.

Body produces insulin but it does not work effectively
Glucose is less able to enter the cells and supply energyThis is called ‘insulin resistance’
Blood glucose levels rise
Pancreas tries to produce even more insulin to make up for the shortfallPancreas can wear out from working overtime to produce extra insulin
Pancreas no longer able to produce enough insulin
Blood glucose levels no longer
in target range
Person develops type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes some insulin but it’s not working as well as it used to. Overview of the pancreas (person without diabetes and person with type 2 diabetes).

Transition

There will come a point—usually around 16–18 years old, when as a person with type 2 diabetes, you will make the move from childhood medical support services and specialists to adult medical care. This is a big step and it can be quite daunting to leave behind the team that you may have known and trusted for years.

One of the biggest differences between child and adult health services is the independence that you will gain. But at the same time, you will be expected to know how to manage and take control of your diabetes yourself.

Talk to your health care team to find out when and how this process will take place for you.

Don’t worry—there is plenty of information to help you through this transition.

Read more about the transition from child to adult diabetes health care.