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Older overweight individuals, in contrast, often lived for years with the help of a strict diet.
Diabetes was considered uncommon in the 19th century, partly because diagnosis relied on tasting the urine, and its relationship to obesity was not fully appreciated until the 1920s.
Multiple genes are involved in genetic susceptibility, each making a small contribution, and their prevalence varies between populations.
Many of these genes influence aspects of healthy beta cell function.
Tablet treatments such as tolbutamide became available in the 1950s, and the terms insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes (IDDM and NIDDM) came into use.
The immune pathogenesis of early onset diabetes was recognised in the 1970s, and it was acknowledged that type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as they are now called, were effectively two different diseases.