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(a) Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes happens when the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in
the pancreas. As a result the pancreas produces little or no insulin so the blood glucose
concentration is not regulated. In a person with type 1 diabetes the blood glucose level can
become far too high or too low, which can cause a diabetic coma. This type of diabetes is
treated with regular insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body does not produce enough insulin, and the body
becomes insensitive to the insulin that is produced. A number of factors can can trigger
this type of diabetes: old age, obesity, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and family
(b) Type 2 Diabetes and Diet
People who have regularly eaten a diet high in sugars are most likely to develop an insulin
insensitivity. This kind of diabetes is not usually treated with insulin but with exercise and
diet. Patients are advised to eat more complex carbohydrates because they are digested
slowly into glucose which helps avoid a rapid glucose increase.
Diabetes can be diagnosed with a fasting blood glucose test. The person being tested eats
and drinks nothing for 8 to 12 hours and then a blood sample is taken, after the person
drinks a 75 g glucose drink. A reading of 7 and above is a sign of probable diabetes.
A glucose tolerance test also can be used. The patient eats normally for three days before
the test, but nothing after midnight on the eve of the test. The patient drinks a 75 g drink
of glucose and blood samples are taken every 30 minutes for three hours. A reading above
11.1 is sign of probable diabetes.
(d) Blood Glucose Levels
A person with diabetes should try to keep their blood glucose levels at a safe
concentration. You can use a biosensor to measure blood glucose levels. The biosensor
strip contains an enzyme that converts any glucose into a gluconolactone, which produces
a small electric current. This is detected by an electrode on the test strip and a reading for
blood glucose concentration is produced on a digital screen.
(e) Diabetes Within the Population
Diabetes is a growing problem in many countries. The increase in the number of people
with diabetes is blamed on growing wealth in many countries. This means that there is
plenty of food available, and people are more likely to eat refined, processed foods. ALso,
more people have cars and so take less exercise.
(e) analyse data to describe the distribution of type 2 diabetes within populations (to
include changes due to migration and accelerated economic development).