Chapter 2. Classification of Diabetes

  1. R. Williams2,
  2. W. Herman3,
  3. A.-L. Kinmonth5 and
  4. N. J. Wareham4
  1. Max De Courten

Published Online: 9 APR 2003

DOI: 10.1002/0470846585.ch2

The Evidence Base for Diabetes Care

The Evidence Base for Diabetes Care

How to Cite

Courten, M. D. (2002) Classification of Diabetes, in The Evidence Base for Diabetes Care (eds R. Williams, W. Herman, A.-L. Kinmonth and N. J. Wareham), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/0470846585.ch2

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Nuffield Institute for Health, University of Leeds, 71-75 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9PL, UK

  2. 3

    Department of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, 3920 Taubman Center, Box 0345, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

  3. 4

    Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 2SR, UK

  4. 5

    General Practice and Primary Care Research Unit, Dept. of Public Health & Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 2SR, UK

Author Information

  1. Office of the WHO Representative for South Pacific, PO Box 113, Suva, Fiji Islands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 9 APR 2003
  2. Published Print: 27 AUG 2002

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471988762

Online ISBN: 9780470846582



  • diagnosis;
  • diagnostic criterion;
  • gestational hyperglycaemia;
  • diagnostic threshold;
  • fasting plasma glucose;
  • impaired glucose tolerance;
  • diagnostic test;
  • blood glucose;
  • oral glucose tolerance test;
  • haemoglobin A1c


The two major forms of diabetes were originally defined by age of onset and later by the levels of endogenous insulin: juvenile-onset corresponds with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and maturity-onset with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. The first internationally accepted classification was established in 1980. As data from genetic, epidemiological and aetiologic studies accumulated, calls were made to refine the classification. The latest WHO classification is based on stages of glucose tolerance with a complementary sub-classification according to the aetiological type. Type 1 includes the majority of cases due primarily to pancreatic beta-cell destruction and which are prone to ketoacidosis. Type 2 includes the common major form of diabetes that results from defects in insulin secretion, almost always with a major contribution from insulin resistance. The criteria for diagnosis and the best diagnostic tests are discussed.