Type 2 diabetes: the lifestyle disease


Cases of type 2 diabetes are increasing dramatically in Western countries. They are closely related to the obesity epidemic in those countries. In fact, type 2 diabetes is said to be a lifestyle disease.

8,5 %
Nearly 8.5% of the world’s population is affected by diabetes. A person dies every six seconds from the disease.
425 M
This pandemic is increasing exponentially: in 2014, 425 million people were affected and in 2040, there will be 622 million patients suffering from type 2 diabetes, according to the World Health Organisation.
90 %
Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of global cases of diabetes. The rise in cases echoes that of obesity, the prevalence of which is growing in Western countries.

A lifestyle disease

Age and overweight are the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes: between 60 and 90% of patients are significantly overweight. Whilst the disease mostly occurs after the age of 40, there are an increasing number of cases of diabetes among obese adolescents in the United States. A sedentary lifestyle is also a risk factor.

However, there is a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes. Science has identified several genes involved in the functioning of pancreatic beta cells, and associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes. Environmental factors could interact with these genes. Finally, people with metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides) are at greater risk.

Non-insulin-dependent diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) is a chronic excess of glucose concentration in the blood. This hyperglycaemia is due to poor pancreatic secretion of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose, and to insufficient effects of insulin on the target organ cells (liver, muscle, adipose tissue) – insulin resistance.

A silent disease

Most of the time, chronic hyperglycaemia is asymptomatic, which is why according to estimations, 30 to 80% of diabetics are not diagnosed. Diabetes is diagnosed either through a routine blood test, or when complications appear, which makes them all the more serious.


Measures to improve lifestyle quality may be sufficient to regulate type 2 diabetes. Losing weight if necessary, exercising and adopting a healthy diet are part of standard treatment.

Oral antidiabetics may be prescribed as second-line therapy. There are several classes (insulin sensitisers, insulin secretors, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors). They have different mechanisms of action and can be administered alone or in combination. Adopting a healthy lifestyle increases their effectiveness. When these treatments are not sufficient to correct diabetes, insulin injections or glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogues may be used. GLP-1 analogues are “incretin” treatments that increase insulin secretion and hormone sensitivity. This improves glycemic control, reduces appetite and slows gastric emptying speed. In some cases, their use compares favourably to insulin treatment.

Living well with your diabetes

Many books have been published in which you can find “tips and tricks” to live better with type 2 diabetes. From gourmet diet recipes to advice on suitable sports, we now have an abundance of information. This is a great help for people who need to change their lifestyle. In addition, therapeutic education has been proven to improve the quality of life of diabetic patients.


The Group’s Research is heavily involved in understanding the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes and identifying new therapeutic targets in order to improve patient care and prevent complications.
Furthermore, Servier has partnered with Nutrikeo, a nutrition strategy consultancy agency. The aim is to provide doctors with innovative recipes and nutrition workshops so that they, in turn, can share tips on how to use certain spices (garlic, curry, white basil) to limit salt, and certain ingredients (vanilla, coconut, cinnamon) to reduce sugar in recipes with their type 2 diabetes patients.


  1. See your doctor regularly

    Type 2 diabetes emerges silently. You should see a doctor to diagnose the disease, set up suitable follow-up measures and avoid complications.
  2. Adopt a suitable lifestyle

    Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, the risks and symptoms can be reduced.
  3. Adhere to your treatment

    Treatment may be prescribed in addition to lifestyle and dietary measures. The secret to it being effective is to take it properly!