What is diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the pancreas can no longer make insulin, or the body cannot effectively use insulin.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. The body breaks down all carbohydrate foods into glucose in the blood, and insulin helps glucose move into the cells.

When the body cannot produce or use insulin effectively, this leads to high blood glucose levels, called hyperglycaemia. Over the long-term high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.

An introduction to diabetes

The IDF School of Diabetes offers a free 20-minute online course that introduces the main types of diabetes and explains the warning signs, risk factors and complications.

Take the course

Diabetes around the world

537 million

Adults living with diabetes

3 in 4 adults with diabetes

live in low- and middle-income countries

6.7 million

Deaths due to diabetes in 2021

Diabetes facts and figures
643m adults predicted to have diabetes by 2030
Man checking his blood sugar levels in a kitchen
Woman watering plants
240m people living with undiagnosed diabetes
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