Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
by Karen Schroeder Kassel, MS, RD, MEd
It is possible to develop type 2 diabetes with or without the risk factors listed below. But, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Sedentary Lifestyle and Poor Dietary Patterns
Type 2 diabetes is very common in the US. A major risk factor is the typical American or Westernized lifestyle, which is characterized by:
Having sleep problems may put you at an increased risk for diabetes. Sleep problems include having difficulty falling asleep, having difficulty staying asleep, sleeping too long (over 9 hours), or not sleeping enough (less than 5 hours).
Excess Weight and Obesity
Carrying excess weight, especially in the upper body and abdomen, increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. This is especially true for overweight young adults, people who have been overweight for a long time. But is it also true for middle-aged adults who gain weight.
There has been a marked increase in type 2 diabetes among overweight children. Until recently, this disease was rarely found in people under the age of 40. The development of type 2 diabetes is increasingly seen in overweight children.
Insulin is a hormone made in the body. It is needed to move glucose from the blood to body tissue. The tissues of overweight or obese people can become less sensitive to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can lead to diabetes and contribute significantly to many of its complications.
Certain conditions that can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes include:
If you are aged 45 or older, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends screening. Regardless of age, though, if you are overweight and have other risk factors, then you should be screened for diabetes. Overweight children who are aged 10 or older should be screened, as well.
In the United States, people of the following ethnic groups are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes:
Many people in these groups have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes when they do not live in a Westernized culture.
Having family members with type 2 diabetes increases your risk of developing the condition.
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Last reviewed September 2016 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Last Updated: 10/1/2018
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