What Is Diabetes?

Contributor: Hannah Brooks. Lesson ID: 12582

Do you pay much attention to what makes up the foods you eat? Your body may be more aware of the ingredients than you think! Learn how simple products like sugar can adversely affect your health!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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On a hot summer day, soda can seem like a refreshing friend. But once it slips past the taste buds, look out!

The average soda has almost ten teaspoons of sugar in each can!

Ask a parent to help you measure that much sugar using kitchen tools and a bowl.

That is a lot of sugar for your body to process and digest. Some people have problems regulating the amount of sugar in their bodies, and may have type one or type two diabetes. Before we talk about each type of diabetes, take a minute to review how your body processes sugar.

Before you move on, if you missed or need to review the previous Related Lessons in this Endocrine System series, find them in the right-hand sidebar.

Imagine you have just eaten breakfast, maybe cereal and milk. Those products have glucose, a sugar that moves into your bloodstream. The hormone insulin is released from the pancreas (a gland in the endocrine system) into the blood to help the glucose move into cells for usage.

So, if you were unable to produce insulin, the amount of glucose would increase in the blood and lead to a high blood sugar level that can make you ill.

Type one diabetes, also called "juvenile diabetes," occurs because an individual's pancreas is unable to make insulin.

We don't really know how damage to the pancreas can occur, but these patients will never be able to produce their own insulin. Type one diabetes does seem to be carried in hereditary genes, and it cannot be prevented.

Type one diabetes is managed by providing an outside source of insulin, like shots or a pump. Patients must also pay special attention to diet and exercise to keep blood sugar levels low.

Type two diabetes patients are able to produce insulin from the pancreas, but the hormone doesn't work effectively, leading to high blood sugar levels. Type two is more common and usually occurs during adulthood in individuals who are overweight. Type two diabetes is managed by a strict diet focused on low sugar foods and regular exercise. In some cases, insulin shots must be given to control the amount of glucose in the blood.

In both type one and type two diabetes, patients must take regular blood sugar levels by pricking a finger and testing the blood using a monitor. This helps the patient be aware of fluctuations in their blood sugar levels throughout the day or after meals.

Some people are born with type one diabetes, and are unable to produce any insulin on their own. Others lose the effectiveness of insulin and develop type two later in life.

  • Did you know that sugar was such an important substance to monitor?
  • How much sugar do you eat each day?

Discuss what you have learned about the role of sugar in the blood with a parent or teacher.

In the Got It? section, you will learn how to prevent type two diabetes.

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