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Type 2 Diabetes

We offer the care and access to information and education needed to live well with type 2 diabetes, including:

Couple with diabetes on the beach.
  • Shared medical appointments that allow more quality time with diabetes experts and the opportunity to learn from others with type 2 diabetes
  • Instruction in oral medications and injectable therapies from pharmacists focused on type 2 diabetes management
  • Nutritional counseling

UC San Diego Health is at the forefront of promising new therapies and lifestyle medicines for type 2 diabetes. Our team was the first to test and utilize GLP-1 agonists, a medication that helps control blood sugar and body weight.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as noninsulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. It accounts for nearly 95 percent of all cases of diabetes.

This type of diabetes most often develops in middle age or older adults, especially those who are inactive and overweight.

How It Starts

Type 2 diabetes typically begins with insulin resistance, when the body doesn't use insulin effectively.

To make up for higher than normal blood sugar levels, the pancreas produces more insulin to help lower blood glucose. But over time, the pancreas loses the ability to make sufficient insulin to keep up with the body's increased insulin needs. As a result, blood glucose levels increase.


Sugar, or glucose, is the main source of energy for all cells in your tissues and muscles. You get glucose from the foods you eat and from your liver.

Normally, glucose enters the bloodstream where it is then distributed to the cells in your body. In a person with type 2 diabetes, glucose builds up in the bloodstream.

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

You may be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Ever had gestational diabetes
  • Have sleep apnea
  • Previously tested positive for prediabetes
  • Have any conditions associated with insulin resistance (e.g., acanthosis nigricans)
  • Have a history of cardiovascular disease
  • Have a sibling or parent who has diabetes
  • Are Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Asian-American, or Hispanic
  • Lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle
  • Are obese or overweight
  • Gave birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Are 45 or older
  • Have high blood pressure

Reduce Your Risk

You can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes with simple lifestyle changes. This includes losing weight, making smarter food choices, and being more physically active.

bulletLearn more about symptoms and risk factors for type 2 diabetes in our Health Library.

Diabetes Complications

High blood sugar levels over time can lead to several, life-threatening conditions. More about complications.

Type 2 Diabetes: Treatment

Living well with type 2 diabetes requires:

  1. Regular blood sugar monitoring
  2. Weight control
  3. Exercise
  4. Oral medications and insulin (in some cases)
  5. Proper nutrition

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. While you may not need to take oral medication or insulin at first, over time it may become a necessary part of your diabetes management plan.

Maintaining low cholesterol and low blood pressure is essential to controlling diabetes. Many people with diabetes are unaware that diabetes raises their risk for deadly heart disease and stroke.

Weight-Loss Surgery

If you’re obese and have type 2 diabetes, weight-loss surgery – also known as bariatric surgery – can help improve your body’s glycemic control and reduce the damaging effects of high blood sugar.

In addition to eliminating the need for diabetes medications, bariatric surgery may even help reverse diabetes in some cases. Nearly 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes who undergo bariatric surgery go into remission.

The surgeons at the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at UC San Diego Health are internationally recognized experts in minimally invasive approaches.

bulletMore on bariatric surgery for type 2 diabetes at UC San Diego Health

Appointments and Referrals



La Jolla


Meet Our Specialists

Shared Medical Appointments

You can get more quality time with our diabetes experts by participating in a shared medical appointment. Call 858-657-1636 for an appointment.

bulletMore About Shared Appointments

Diabetes Self-Management Clinic

Learn how to effectively manage your diabetes by attending a group or individual session with one of our certified diabetes educators. 

bullet Diabetes Self-Management Clinic

Online Resources For Diabetes

bullet Organizations that are leading the fight against diabetes