Posted 21 Apr 2020

Facts and Figures about Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

(Author: Daniel Sharpe-Szunko)

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious medical condition that has two main types known as type 1 and type 2, but there are also a number of other types of diabetes as well. It is also a chronic condition which means that once you have diabetes then you will generally have it for the rest of your life.

The body normally produces glucose (sugar) which we all need for energy and insulin which is a hormone that allows the glucose to enter our bloodstream to fuel our bodies. Glucose which gives us energy is produced when our bodies break down a thing called carbohydrates which comes from the food we eat and what we drink, the glucose then gets released into our blood.

Our pancreas produces insulin which the body uses to control the amount of glucose that we have in our bloodstream. This process then allows the body to manage how much glucose getting into our cells, but for people with diabetes, this system doesn’t work properly.

Some of the main symptoms for someone with diabetes include:

  • Excessive urination, usually at night
  • More thirsty
  • Being tired and lethargic
  • Weight loss
  • Thrush or genital itch
  • Blurred vision
  • Scars and wounds don’t heal as quickly

Some people with type 2 diabetes live with these symptoms for up to 10 years before they get them checked by a medical professional.

What are the main types of Diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes as well as a number of other less common and less well-known types.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type which affects roughly 90% of people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK. People most commonly and mistakenly in a lot of cases, associate this type of diabetes with a poor diet, lack of exercise, and being overweight. But this is not necessarily the case as type 2 diabetes can develop for a number of different reasons.

Generally, type 2 diabetes will develop later in life and occurs because the body still produces insulin but the insulin can’t work properly which means that glucose levels continue to rise. Over time, higher than normal sugar levels in the body can cause potentially serious and long-lasting damage to your heart, eyes, feet, and kidneys.

Managing type 2 diabetes is usually done with diet, tablet (Metformin), or in some cases insulin injections. It has been known in recent years for people with mild type 2 diabetes to reverse the condition with a specific diet and healthy lifestyle including exercise.

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) and serious medical condition that is currently found in approximately 8% of people with diabetes in the UK. Generally, this type of diabetes occurs more in younger people and is also known as ‘childhood diabetes’ or ‘juvenile diabetes’.

The main difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes is that in type 1, the body actually attacks the cells in your pancreas that would normally produce insulin. Whereas in type 2 the body can still produce insulin, in type 1 the body simply does not produce any insulin which can have a dramatic effect on us and our entire bodies.

Having known someone with quite a severe type 1 diabetes for many years I can say from personal experience that this condition can be very scary. Treatment that has included many years on kidney dialysis, eventually receiving a full kidney transplant after several years on an NHS waiting list, and almost complete loss of sight in both eyes.

Gestational diabetes is the last of the more common types of diabetes which gets its name from how it develops in pregnant women. This type of diabetes can affect almost any woman at any stage of pregnancy regardless of your diet, lifestyle, or health. Gestational diabetes will also generally go after the pregnancy or can sometimes develop into type 2 diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is a newer type of diabetes that has been developed in the modern medical world to help people to manage their health and make sure that they don’t develop full-blown diabetes. Someone may be told by their GP or a medical professional that they have pre-diabetes and then advised on how to manage their health to stop them from getting diabetes.

Diabetes Statistics (UK)

According to the latest statistics by the leading diabetes charity, Diabetes UK, the latest figures for the UK are:

  • 3.9 million people living with diabetes (plus almost a million with undiagnosed diabetes – making the total over 4.8 million people)*
  • More than 100,000 people were diagnosed with diabetes in 2019 in the UK (projected to increase to 5.3 million by 2025)*
  • 1 in 15 people living in the UK has diabetes
  • 6 in 10 people with type 2 diabetes has no symptoms
  • People with type 2 diabetes are approximately 50% more likely to die early*
  • Risks of Heart Attack or Heart Disease is much more likely in someone with type 2 diabetes (almost 2 to 2.5 higher risk)*

*The latest figures are provided by Diabetes UK, Diabetes Prevalence 2019 report.

Does diabetes affect me being able to get Life Insurance?

People living with diabetes can be extremely healthy and should not be too greatly affected when applying for life insurance. It is increasingly likely that you’ll also be able to get accepted for life insurance without the need for further medical underwriting so can be covered immediately so you won’t need to provide evidence from your GP or Diabetic Nurse. Our experts at iam|INSURED has worked very closely with some of the UK’s biggest and best insurance companies to make sure that people with diabetes get the lowest rates available and the best cover.

A standard life insurance application will ask questions about your general health and lifestyle to gather information about you. In the case of someone with diabetes, you’ll be asked to provide specific information about your condition, such as:

  • Do you take insulin?
  • Which type of diabetes do you have?
  • When were you first diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Has your diabetes affected any other areas of your body (e.g. eyes, kidneys, nerves or limbs)?
  • Have you ever been hospitalised because of your diabetes?
  • When did you last get your blood glucose levels checked by your GP?
  • What was the latest HbA1c (or Mmol) reading?
  • Have you been diagnosed with High Blood Pressure or Raised Cholesterol?

These types of questions and some others will enable underwriters to assess your application and apply an accurate decision. Another major positive impact on premiums for people with diabetes over the past 15 years has resulted from insurers competing for policyholders with diabetes. You should also know that life insurance rates and terms for people with diabetes are constantly improving so it’s always worth reviewing existing policies as well.

Can I get Critical Illness Cover with Diabetes?

In recent years we’ve found that more and more that people with diabetes are able to get critical illness cover again thanks to changes in underwriting rules. Currently critical illness cover is only available for type 2 diabetes from the mainstream or more popular high street insurance providers. It is possible to get more specialist critical illness style products for people with type 1 diabetes which come with slightly different terms to the standard cover.

You can now get critical illness cover through the major insurance providers as long as you fit certain criteria. These criteria questions include:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Have you got type 2 diabetes?
  • Do you have any diabetes complications (e.g. Retinopathy, Neuropathy or Nephropathy)?
  • What is your height and weight (BMI)?
  • Is your diabetes well controlled and readings low (HbA1c / Mmol)?

As long as you can answer these questions positively then you should have no problem being able to get critical illness cover. These terms are constantly changing so you’ll find that this will change over a period of time which we’ll be able to keep you informed about through our blogs and news articles.

Check out our quick guide to Critical Illness Cover for Diabetes

Diabetes Awareness events

Due to the high levels of diabetes both in the UK and globally, there are a number of major events that have been dedicated to raising awareness for diabetes. These events are annual events that help to raise money for research as well as raise awareness for people living with diabetes and the risks of developing diabetes.

Diabetes events include:

World Diabetes Day is an annual event on November 14th to increase awareness around the world for diabetes. The reason that the event is held on this specific date is that it coincides with the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting who helped to discover insulin

Diabetes Awareness Week is held in the UK usually in June and is operated by Diabetes UK which is the biggest British diabetes charity

National Diabetes Month is primarily an American event which is held by the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and the American Diabetes Association

Diabetes Charities and Support organisations (UK)

These charities and companies provide vital information, guidance, support, and services to people with diabetes, they include:

Diabetes UK

Link: https://www.diabetes.org.uk

Helpline: 0345 123 2399

Address: Wells Lawrence House, 126 Back Church Lane, London, E1 1FH

Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation

Link: https://www.drwf.org.uk

Helpline: 0239 263 7808

Address: Building 6000, Langstone Technology Park, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 1SA

Diabetes.co.uk

Forum: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/forum/

Address: Technology House, Sir William Lyons Road, University of Warwick Scient Park, Coventry, CV4 7EZ

For more information or if you’ve got any questions about insurance for people with diabetes, call iam|INSURED on 0800 009 6559 or submit an enquiry.

Daniel Sharpe-Szunko