Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

August 12, 2015 by Editorial Team

Diabetes mellitus (commonly referred to as diabetes) is a chronic disease that affects the body’s capability to absorb and utilize glucose. When the body cannot utilize glucose, it can accumulate in the bloodstream, or in the worse case scenario, in the urine. Diabetes can be classified into two types: diabetes mellitus type 1 or diabetes mellitus type 2.


Main symptoms of diabetes
Main symptoms of diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus type 1 was formerly known as juvenile onset or insulin dependent. Type 1 is the condition in which islets of Langerhans (particularly beta cells) – the cells responsible for the production and release of insulin – are compromised. Insulin is needed by the body to lower serum glucose. Without insulin, the body cannot absorb glucose, which is needed by the body for energy.

Diabetes Mellitus type 2 was formerly known as adult onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes. The former name is no longer in use because this can occur at any age. In this condition, the body can produce insulin but not utilize it. The body is insulin resistant. Because there is an excess in insulin, this  signals the pancreas to produce less until the body can no longer produce insulin. When the body fails to produce insulin, the individual may ultimately be insulin dependent.

Comparison Chart

Diabetes Type 1Diabetes Type 2
Related to genesInfluenced by lifestyle
Cannot be preventedPreventable
Juvenile onsetAdult onset
Mostly thinMostly obese

Diabetes Type 1 vs Diabetes Type 2

What is the difference between diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2? Let us compare the two in terms of what influences the disease, prevention, age and onset, the physique of the individual, and treatment.

  • Diabetes type 1 is a genetic disease which is related to the person’s genes. There is a defect in the beta cells that results in the nonproduction of insulin. As for diabetes type 2, it is caused by one’s lifestyle – it is influenced by a poor diet, lack of exercise, and increase in weight.
  • Because diabetes type 1 is genetic, it cannot be prevented.  In diabetes type 2 there are early signs and symptoms of the disease, so prevention can be carried out. Change in diet and lifestyle is the easiest way to prevent the disease from progressing, although medications are often prescribed.
  • Since diabetes type 1 is genetic, the disease manifests at an early age or there is a juvenile onset. On the other hand, diabetes type 2 is commonly seen in older people, or there is an adult onset. However there is currently a change in trend wherein the younger generation is also manifesting diabetes type 2.
  • Diabetes type 1 has a sudden onset. Unlike diabetes type 2, the disease is gradual and progresses over time.
  • Although not a definite sign and symptom of diabetes, most often than not, individuals suffering from diabetes type 1 are thin. As for diabetes type 2, it is commonly associated with obese individuals. The latter can be associated with obese individuals due to a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Sufferers of diabetes type 1 have to have treatment with insulin medication or injections; those with diabetes mellitus type 2 can often control their symptoms with diet, exercise, etc., but they too may eventually have to take medication or even have injections of insulin.


The following video could help you better understand the difference between diabetes type 1 and type 2: