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Type 2 diabetes increasing in prevalence due to lifestyle

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Kieran O’Leary

CEO, Diabetes Ireland

There are two distinct types of diabetes with a common dominator – raised blood glucose levels.


Today, the majority of us know someone with diabetes. There are currently 225,000 people with diabetes in Ireland and with the prevalence of diabetes steadily increasing, we are going to see more and more people developing diabetes with an estimated 280,000 Irish people living with diabetes by 2030.

This is due largely to the number of adults who are overweight and not taking the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity in a week, therefore increasing their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. A 2015 survey from Healthy Ireland showed that 37% of adults are overweight and 23% are obese. We are seeing an increase in diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes as a direct result of these unhealthy lifestyle behaviours.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body cannot use glucose (sugar). Type 1 diabetes is the result of complete failure of insulin production and therefore insulin must be given as an injection. There is currently no known cause or cure and type 1 is a lifelong condition.

Type 2 diabetes is the result of over-demand of the body for insulin or reduced insulin production. Healthy eating and increased activity is the mainline treatment with medications and sometimes insulin injections required. Being overweight or inactive contribute to insulin demand while carrying weight around the middle is particularly dangerous, hence major weight loss may prevent and even reverse Type 2 diabetes.  

How Diabetes Ireland is supporting those affected by diabetes

Diabetes Ireland is the national charity supporting people with – and at risk of developing – diabetes, working to actively improve access to care, support, education and information services. It supports people with diabetes and their families through a wide range of services including face-to-face contact, literature provision, a diabetes ‘lo-call’ helpline and online.

Through its care centres, Community Diabetes Education (CODE) programme and volunteer support network, it also provides community-based professional education and peer group support to people with diabetes and their families throughout Ireland.

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