Diabetes risk factors

Take Charge of Your Diabetes Risk

Are you in a high-risk group for type 2 diabetes?

Before the year is out, a million new cases of type 2 diabetes will be diagnosed. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another six million Americans who have the disease still won’t be aware of it. In addition, over 30 percent of Americans are already “pre-diabetic” and stand to develop full-blown diabetes in five to 10 years.

So how do you avoid becoming one of the millions who will be diagnosed with this disease? By understanding your risk, and, where possible, taking measures to reduce it.

Some primary risk factors are unavoidable:

  • Being over 45 years old
  • Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Being African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, American Indian, or Pacific Islander
  • Developing diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or giving birth to a baby nine pounds or bigger

But these five important risk factors are within your control:

  • Excess weight (more than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight)
  • High blood pressure (especially if it’s 140/90 or higher)
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels (an HDL cholesterol level of 35 or lower, triglyceride levels of 250 or higher)
  • An inactive lifestyle (exercising less than three times a week)
  • Eating an excess of dietary sugars and carbohydrates

If you’re over 45 and have any other risk factors, you should get a blood glucose test at least once every three years. In addition to diagnosing diabetes, the test can identify “pre-diabetes” – a condition with blood sugar readings that are above normal but below diabetic level. Learning that you’re pre-diabetic can give you a chance to delay or entirely prevent the onset of diabetes by making a few lifestyle changes.

Recent research indicates that a balanced, healthy diet and moderate exercise taken on a regular basis can cut a person’s risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

“Type 2 Diabetes” American Diabetes Association, diabetes.org