Print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Type 2 diabetes

Matehuka momo 2

Type 2 diabetes happens when your body cannot use insulin properly (insulin resistance). This makes your blood glucose (sugar) levels high.

You're at a greater risk of getting type 2 diabetes if you:

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include:

Some people with type 2 diabetes do not have any symptoms, so it's important to have a screening blood test.

Preventing type 2 diabetes

Have a screening blood test to check if you are heading towards getting diabetes (prediabetes).

This can be part of a heart risk assessment. It's done in males from age 45 and females from age 55, or earlier if needed. If you have risk factors for diabetes, talk to your general practice team about when you should start having screening.

Eat well with regular meals. For more information, see Eating well.

Staying physically active can prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days and to spend less time sitting. For more information, see Keeping active. Ask your general practice team about Support for getting active.

Being a healthy weight can prevent or delay the start of diabetes. If you're overweight, losing only 5 to 10% of your weight can make a difference. For more information, see Tips to help you lose weight.

Diagnosing type 2 diabetes

A blood test called HbA1c measures the amount of glucose in your blood over the previous two to three months. You have diabetes if your HbA1c results are higher than 50.

Self‑care for type 2 diabetes

Eating well with diabetes, including reducing the amount of added and natural sugars, is most important.

Regular physically activity can reduce blood glucose, and if you're overweight it can help you lose weight. The Greater Christchurch sport and recreation guide can help you find a physical activity class or programme near you.

Aim to be a healthy weight, as weight loss can treat type 2 diabetes. If you're overweight, losing just 5 to 10% of your weight will be helpful.

Do not smoke.

Treating type 2 diabetes

If lifestyle measures aren't enough by themselves, your doctor may recommend tablets or insulin.

Medications for type 2 diabetes

Metformin is the most commonly used medication. It helps your body use insulin to reduce your blood glucose. It also helps some people lose weight.

Tummy upset is the commonest side effect with metformin. If you get very sick, especially with vomiting and diarrhoea, stop taking your metformin and talk to your doctor.

Other medications include:


You might need to start insulin injections.

There are lots of types of insulin and methods of taking it. Your doctor and nurse will find the type and method that suits you best.

For more information about insulin, see managing insulin.


You'll need regular check‑ups for complications of diabetes and you'll need treatment if you develop the complications.

Getting help for type 2 diabetes

The following healthcare professionals can help:

For support and information:

  HealthInfo recommends the following videos

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2022.


Page reference: 44406

Review key: HIDIA-21832