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Diabetes affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of what we eat is broken down into sugar (or glucose) and enters our bloodstream. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that lets blood sugar into our cells for energy. If you have diabetes, your body doesn't make enough insulin, or can't use available insulin as well as it should. When this happens, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which can lead to serious health problems. Here are the most common types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction (where the body attacks itself by mistake) so insulin isn't made anymore. About 5% of people with diabetes have type 1. Type 1 is most often seen in children and young adults.
  2. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body doesn't use insulin well. It can lead to serious health problems like heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and loss of toes, feet, or legs. Two out of five adults are expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
  3. Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes before. Every year, 2% to 10% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, it usually goes away after your baby is born, but greatly increases your risk and your baby's risk of having type 2 diabetes later in life.
  4. Diabetes from other causes. A small minority of people develop specific types of diabetes due to other causes, including:
    • Monogenic diabetes syndromes, such as neonatal diabetes and maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY)
    • Diseases of the exocrine pancreas, such as cystic fibrosis and pancreatitis
    • Drug or chemical-induced diabetes, such as with glucocorticoid use, in the treatment of HIV/AIDS or after organ transplantation

Because these types of diabetes are rare, they are often misdiagnosed as other types of diabetes.

For more information on types of diabetes, please visit the American Diabetes Association Diabetes webpage.

A blood drop from a finger.

About one-third of adults have prediabetes, but most don't know it. Could you be one of them?

Take the Prediabetes Risk Test.

Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes yet. About one-third of adults have prediabetes, but most don't know it. You can have it for years without symptoms, so it often goes undetected until it becomes type 2.

What you can do

If you have prediabetes or are at risk, you want to do what you can to stop prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes. And, if you have diabetes, learning successful self-management practices can help delay or prevent complications. Select a topic below to learn about resources that can help your prevent or manage diabetes.

About one-third of adults have prediabetes, but most don't know it. Without lifestyle change, prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes within five years. The good news is that research shows prediabetes can be reversed through healthy eating, increased activity, and weight loss. Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, here are three things you can do:

  • Find out if you're at risk by learning more about prediabetes and taking the Prediabetes Risk Test.
  • If you are at risk or have prediabetes, sign up for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. The program is offered at locations across Wisconsin and online.
  • See your health care provider regularly to have your blood sugar checked.

National Diabetes Prevention Program

The National Diabetes Prevention Program helps people make lifestyle changes to prevent type 2 diabetes. Evidence shows participants can reduce their risk by 58% or more. Here's what you can expect from the program:

  • An evidence-based class
  • Year-long support
  • A trained lifestyle coach
  • A support group: because it's easier to make changes together
  • A goal to lose 5-7% of your starting weight

To learn more about the program and find locations near you, visit our prediabetes webpage.

Managing your diabetes can be a challenge. Here are a few things that can help:

Resources for the school setting

Diabetes Camp for Children in Rosholt, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Lions Camp offers two, one-week sessions for children with diabetes ages 12-16. Kids meet other kids like them, build self-confidence, and learn about healthy lifestyle through education, physical activity, emotional well-being, and glucose control. To learn more please visit or call 715-677-4969.

Know Diabetes by Heart: living with type 2 diabetes puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Knowing what steps to take may reduce your risk.

Eat Right: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: food and nutrition resources from the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals

National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin: diabetes, high blood pressure, and family history are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease

Prevent Blindness Wisconsin: if you have diabetes, prevention of eye diseases related to diabetes is a priority

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: resources for living with diabetes including sick days, managing blood sugar, mental health, and being prepared for emergencies

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: resources for diabetes tests and diagnosis, insulin and medications, and preventing problems

American Diabetes Association: resources for all types of diabetes, their friends, family, and people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes

JDRF: resources for people with type 1 diabetes, their friends, and family

What we are doing

The Chronic Disease Prevention Program partners with communities, health systems, health care providers, insurers, and professional organizations to prevent type 2 diabetes and improve diabetes management. Select a topic below to explore our current projects and partnerships.

Our program supports the sustainability of the National Diabetes Prevention Program by:

  • Increasing awareness of prediabetes and the program.
  • Increasing access through technical assistance to CDC-recognized suppliers and organizations interested in becoming CDC-recognized suppliers.
  • Providing lifestyle coach trainings that build skills to deliver the program and address issues such as increasing enrollment and retaining participants.
  • Assisting health care organizations in implementing systems to identify people with prediabetes and refer them to programs in Wisconsin.
  • Working with health insurers and employers to increase the number of people who have the program as a covered benefit.

If you are a health care organization or employer, consider that for every 100 high-risk adults completing the National Diabetes Prevention Program:

  • 15 new cases of type 2 diabetes are prevented
  • 11 people avoid having to take blood pressure and cholesterol medications
  • 162 missed work days are prevented
  • $91,400 in health care costs are avoided

National Diabetes Prevention Program resources

The Chronic Disease Prevention Program is committed to sharing chronic disease data with Wisconsin communities. Explore maps and data resources by topic on our Maps and Data webpage.

Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) is a critical element of care for all people with diabetes. DSMES is the ongoing process of facilitating the knowledge, skills, and ability necessary for self-care for someone with diabetes. The Chronic Disease Prevention Program supports improved access and participation in DSMES. DSMES is associated with increases in primary service visits and decreases in acute, inpatient hospital visits. Currently, we are working with the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality Chronic Disease Steering Team, the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging, and Milwaukee-based Community Health Workers at Unite WI to increase access to and participation in DSMES programs.

If you'd like to know more about DSMES standards, accreditation and recognition, reimbursement, and more, we encourage using the CDC's DSMES Toolkit.

Community health workers are frontline, culturally competent, public health workers who serve as a bridge between less resourced communities and health care systems. They are from, or have a close understanding of, the community served. We support the advancement of a statewide community health worker network, training and apprenticeships, and engage with the Wisconsin Public Health Association's Community Health Worker Section. We also promote sustainability of care models that engage community health workers in diabetes prevention and management. Collaborative partners include organizations utilizing the Pathways Community HUB Model, like UniteMKE in Milwaukee, and Great Rivers HUB in La Crosse.

Many health systems use electronic health records and health information technology to measure and track clinical quality measures. Our program promotes the adoption of standardized clinical quality measures to prevent and manage diabetes. Additionally, we promote the adoption of these measures to improve monitoring of health and health care disparities among populations, and inform activities to eliminate them. Below are our current partnerships specific to these efforts:

Medication therapy management is a distinct service to ensure the best therapeutic outcomes for patients. It includes five core elements:

  • Medication therapy review
  • Personal medication record
  • Medication-related action plan
  • Intervention or referral
  • Documentation and follow-up

Medication therapy management has been shown to improve how well people take the medication they are prescribed. We work closely with the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin and their Wisconsin Pharmacy Quality Collaborative program to engage pharmacists in the promotion of medication therapy management and lifestyle modification for patients with diabetes. The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin provides interactive training, toolkits, and technical assistance to 250+ accredited pharmacies and nearly 500 certified pharmacists across Wisconsin.

Resources and opportunities to connect

Last revised November 10, 2023