Finding the root cause of Type 2 Diabetes can be harder than nailing your grandma’s Christmas Cookie recipe. That’s because Type 2 Diabetes has a wide range of potential risk factors, from lifestyle choices to genetics – and like many common health conditions, it’s rarely caused by just one.
While you can’t change your family history, there are some common risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes you do have control over. It’s important to know if you are at risk so you can begin taking steps to prevent this common but chronic condition.
The top risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes include:
Weight. Those who are overweight or obese are at higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Another important factor is the way your body stores excess weight. You’re at greater risk if you store fat in your abdomen rather than in other areas like the hips or thighs.
Physical Inactivity. Physical activity doesn’t only help control weight – it also makes your muscle cells more sensitive to insulin and helps the body burn excess glucose in the blood into energy. The less active you are, the higher your risk.
Age. Type 2 Diabetes most commonly develops in patients aged 45 or older. This is likely because older adults are less likely to exercise, leading to weight gain and decreased muscle mass.
Family History. You are at higher risk if someone in your immediate family has Type 2 Diabetes, such as a parent or a sibling.
Race and Ethnicity. You may be at greater risk of Type 2 Diabetes if you are an African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
Underlying Conditions. Some underlying health conditions increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. These include high blood pressure, a history of heart disease or stroke, and inappropriate levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Gestational Diabetes. Your risk of Type 2 Diabetes increases if you have a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or have given birth to a baby over 9 pounds.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – a hormone-related condition that causes irregular menstrual periods, pelvic pain, and obesity – are at greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
If you’re in a high-risk category, take heart – smart lifestyle choices and regular blood sugar testing can manage and even reverse your condition. If you develop any symptoms of diabetes, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.