Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

DIABETES CARE|Sep.09, 2014

Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is a condition that affects the way your body metabolizes its main source of fuel — sugar (glucose).

The body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain healthy glucose levels.

There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but there are ways to lower blood sugar. Help manage your condition by eating well, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and monitoring your blood glucose levels. If diet and exercise don't control your blood sugar, you may need medications or insulin therapy.

Factors that can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes include1:

Risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, especially after 45, because people tend to exercise less and gain weight. Type 2 diabetes is now also increasing among children, adolescents and younger adults because of obesity.

Being overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. This is because the more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin.

Fat Distribution
If your body stores fat primarily in your abdomen, your risk of type 2 diabetes is greater than if your body stores fat elsewhere.

The less active you are, the greater your risk. Exercise can impact blood sugar levels. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.

Family History
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases if your parent or sibling has it.

Race and Ethnicity
Although it's unclear why, people of certain races and ethnicities — including African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic white people.

Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Left untreated, prediabetes may put you at risk to get type 2 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes
Women who develop gestational diabetes while pregnant are at greater risk of later developing type 2 diabetes.

If you have questions about your risk for type 2 diabetes, ways to lower blood sugar, how to maintain healthy glucose levels, or the symptoms you're experiencing, talk with your healthcare professional.