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Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It usually occurs in adults, but is increasingly seen in children and adolescents. In type 2 diabetes, there is a combination of inadequate production of insulin and an inability of the body to respond fully to insulin (insulin resistance). Being overweight is a main cause of type 2 diabetes, which is also influenced by lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption.

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In 2015, it was estimated that 415 million adults around the world were living with diabetes (types 1 and 2 collectively). This number is predicted to increase to 642 million by 20401. In Europe, about 60 million people have diabetes, or about 10.3% of men and 9.6% of women aged 25 years and over1. It is estimated that this figure will reach 71 million by 20402.

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In Europe, diabetes caused 627,000 deaths in 2015: about one quarter (26.3%) of those deaths were in people under the age of 60. Estimates indicate that diabetes was responsible for 9% of total health expenditure in Europe in 2015, equivalent to USD 156 billion1.

Age is an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes. In Europe, 30.8% of the general population were aged between 50 and 79 in 2015, and this percentage is expected to increase to 35.6% by 20401. To a large degree, the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance are a consequence of the ageing of Europe’s population. However, diabetes is now increasingly affecting adolescents and children and the highest increase is in the 30-40 year old age group3.

The twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes already represent the biggest public health challenge of the 21st century. It is estimated that at least half of all diabetes cases would be eliminated if weight gain in adults could be prevented4.

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