Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Ask the Diabetes Team

From New Jersey, USA:

I've had people tell me a type 2 diabetic can become a type 1. I was quite sure that was not true. Can you please clarify?


This question raises an ongoing debate about the imprecision of the nomenclature used to describe diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be a disease involving immune-mediated destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, the beta cells. The usual course is for onset before age 30, in thin people, often presenting with the stormy illness of diabetic ketoacidosis and, less frequently, running in families. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes has a major component of insulin resistance, is associated with obesity, age over 40, and has a frequent family history. Most patients have a gradual onset of the disease in that they do not develop diabetic ketoacidosis. As we apply new tools such as C-peptide measurement, anti-GAD antibodies, and study patients before the frank onset of symptoms, it has become apparent that these nice categories do not fit all patients. We have some people with diabetes in the slot between 25 to 40 years of age where it is not clear which type of diabetes they have. Some have early type 2 diabetes and some have late-onset type 1 diabetes, although it is not altogether obvious at the time of diagnosis. It is not true that type 2 diabetes somehow morphs into type 1 diabetes. Some may be misclassified. Some with type 2 diabetes go on to lose a significant amount of insulin secretion and require insulin. This might be misclassified as someone who had type 2 diabetes go into type 1 diabetes. This debate will continue. The most important point of all is that blood sugar control is the most important outcome.


Original posting 27 Sep 2006
Posted to Diagnosis and Symptoms


  Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Return to the Top of This Page

Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:10:08
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.

This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents. Our mission is to provide education and support to families living with type 1 diabetes.
By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Legal Notice, and Privacy Policy.
© Children with Diabetes, Inc. 1995-2018. Comments and Feedback.