Ask The Expert: Rita Kalyani On Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. With approximately one in three Americans at high risk for diabetes, and 29.1 million Americans diagnosed with the disease, it's important that people become educated on the disease and the risks associated with it. Rita Kalyani, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and editor-in-chief, Johns Hopkins Diabetes Guide clarifies some common misconceptions about diabetes.

kalyaniGet more information about Diabetes awareness, including the latest reasearch findings, at the Johns Hopkins Medicine health awareness page. Or visit the diabetes page at the online Johns Hopkins Medicine health library.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious disease that occurs when the body cannot maintain normal levels of glucose, an important energy source. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body metabolize glucose. People with type 2 diabetes can still produce insulin early in the disease, but the body doesn’t appropriately respond to its effects.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy in women.

What is prediabetes?

People with prediabetes have elevated blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but fall just below the criterion for diagnosing type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is often a precursor to type 2 diabetes, but those with prediabetes can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by making healthy lifestyle adjustments.

Is diabetes preventable?

Based on current knowledge, it is not clear whether type 1 diabetes is preventable, but a healthy diet and regular exercise can dramatically decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes. Losing just 5 percent of your body weight can make a big difference. If you have type 2 diabetes, these same measures may help you manage your blood glucose without insulin.

How is diabetes managed?

If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to start taking insulin upon diagnosis. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may initially be able to manage your disease with weight loss alone, but most patients take pills for diabetes and some take insulin. You should work with your doctor to make sure you’re on track with your treatment goals.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }


Lou Ann Rau December 3, 2014 at 10:53 am

Dr. Kalyani, I am the nurse educator from Johns Hopkins Home Care Group. I see that you are the editor-in-chief for the Johns Hopkins Diabetes Guide. I am not familiar with this publication and was wondering if this is educaitonal material that we should be teaching from for our home care patients, many of whom come from the JH system; JHH, JHBMC, JH Howard Co. General?

Can you please let me know how I can access this diabetes guide?

thank you,
Lou Ann Rau


Will Cox December 3, 2014 at 11:51 am

Hello Lou Ann,

You can access the guide at I hope this helps.


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