What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes very high levels of sugar in the blood. It also affects how the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach that releases insulin) function. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body use sugar for energy.

When a person has type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond well to insulin and the pancreas does not release enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. This causes extra sugar to build up in the body.

Who is More Likely to Develop Type 2 Diabetes?

People with one or more of the following risk factors are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes:

  • If you are overweight or obese
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes or certain conditions that affect how the body makes and uses insulin
  • Females with a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS, a condition that causes tiny cysts in the ovaries and higher male hormone levels than typically seen in women)
  • If you are Hispanic, Native American or Black

Is Diabetes Dangerous?

Diabetes is not dangerous as long as you live a healthy lifestyle and take any prescribed medication for diabetes the way your doctor tells you to. A healthy lifestyle means eating a healthy diet and staying active.

If you do not control diabetes, it can lead to the following serious health concerns:

  • Problems with your eyes, nerves and kidneys
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • High levels of fat in the blood
  • Higher risk of skin infections

Learn more

Rev. 11/2017. Reviewed by the MGHfC Family Advisory Council and Pediatric Endocrinology at MGHfC.
This webpage is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.