Plasma glucose levels are maintained within a narrow range in normal individuals. Both insulin-dependent and insulin-independent processes contribute to fasting and postprandial plasma glucose regulation. The brain and nervous system are insulin independent. Muscle and adipose tissue are responsive to insulin and can use either glucose or ketones and free fatty acids as their primary metabolic fuel. The essential components of metabolic syndrome are obesity, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, lipid disturbances, and hypertension. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases exponentially as body mass index increases above about 25 kg/m2. The links between obesity and type 2 diabetes include proinflammatory cytokines, insulin resistance, deranged fatty acid metabolism, and cellular processes. Modest weight reduction can improve glycaemic control and reduce diabetes risk. Obesity also leads to hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance, with a progressive decrease in insulin secretory function. Ageing is another important risk factor for metabolic disorders, including obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, and type 2 diabetes.