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Ninety percent of Americans with diabetes have this type, which is generally less serious than Type 1. Patients may not make enough insulin, or they may be resistant to the insulin that they do produce. In individuals with Type 2 diabetes, the insulin that should be produced after a meal can be decreased by as much as 50 percent. People with Type 2 usually don't have to take insulin right after diagnosis, and they may never need to. Doctors generally first prescribe a change in diet and an increase in exercise. With Type 2, unlike Type 1, autoimmune destruction of the cells is not present.

Type 2 diabetes is often called the silent disease because out of the nearly 16 million people in this country who have it, nearly one third don't know it. In fact, Type 2 diabetes is present on average for about six and one half years before diagnosis. And even though at the time of diagnosis most Type 2 patients don't even have symptoms, they are still at significant risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Are you obese, overweight, or just right?

Don't rely on your bathroom scale for the answer. Experts now assess both obesity and overweight using the body mass index (BMI) because they believe that it yields a more accurate measure of total body fat than weight. Take a look at the BMI chart at the back of the book (Appendix C) and find out where you stand.

The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes climbs with age, and is typically diagnosed after the age of 30. However, don't be so sure your child won't develop the disorder. Increasingly, it's being diagnosed in children and teenagers, and some authorities are predicting an epidemic among young people. What's more, Type 2 diabetes goes hand in hand with obesity. About 80 percent of patients are obese at the time of diagnosis. Unfortunately, a growing percentage of our younger population falls into this category.

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