Health conditions

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body produces insulin but the insulin is ineffective, or there is not enough insulin, or both.

It accounts for approximately 85 per cent of people with diabetes and while it is usually seen in adults, it is increasingly being seen in teenagers and children.

Regular physical activity, a healthy eating plan, maintaining a healthy waist and stress management are the cornerstones of managing type 2 diabetes.

How how you get type 2 diabetes?

Research indicates that there are a range of associated risk factors. Only some of these risk factors can be changed.

Risk factors which cannot be changed include:

  • having a family history of diabetes
  • being over 40
  • being of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Melanesian, Polynesian, Chinese or Indian subcontinent descent
  • being a woman who has had gestational diabetes or who has polycystic ovary syndrome
  • having a mental health condition
  • having a history of heart disease.

Risk factors which can be changed include:

  • being overweight, that is having a waist measurement over 80 cm for women and over 94 cm for men
  • being physically inactive
  • not following a healthy eating pattern
  • smoking
  • having high cholesterol or blood pressure.

Diabetes WA (external site) has developed a test to find out if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Signs and symptoms

Statistically, for every person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there is another who is undiagnosed. This is because they may not experience any signs, or the signs are too vague to bring about a visit to the doctor.

Signs of type 2 diabetes may include:

  • thirst
  • frequent urination
  • lethargy or being very tired
  • blurred vision
  • possible weight gain
  • infections or wounds that don't improve
  • constant hunger
  • mood swings.
How can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

Adopting healthy lifestyle practices is currently the only, yet powerful, way to prevent type 2 diabetes. To avoid or delay type 2 diabetes you should:

  • be physically active – try to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • enjoy healthy eating – eat a wide variety of low fat, high fibre, low GI foods.
  • maintain a healthy waist circumference – keep your waist to less than 94 cm for men and 80 cm for women.
  • quit smoking.
  • manage your stress levels.
Managing type 2 diabetes

The cornerstone of type 2 diabetes management is physical activity, healthy eating and stress management. However, these measures may need to be complemented by the benefits of medications and insulin, especially as the condition progresses.

The importance of blood glucose monitoring

Blood glucose monitoring is like a jigsaw, with two pieces to the puzzle. One piece is the self blood glucose monitoring and the other is the A1c, also known as HbA1c. Together they provide the whole picture of blood glucose levels.

Being able to self blood glucose monitor empowers the person to manage their diabetes and to make informed decisions about physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management. It further empowers them and their diabetes team to make the best decisions in the management of their diabetes, including medication options.

The A1c provides a measurement of the average blood glucose levels of the last three months, giving information on the risk of developing long term complications.

Where to get help


  • Statistically, for every person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there is another who is undiagnosed.
  • The cornerstone of type 2 diabetes management is physical activity, healthy eating and stress management.

This information provided by

Diabetes WA logo

Last reviewed: 07-01-2019
Diabetes WA

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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