For American Diabetes Association Alert Day, Learn Your Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
By Brian Acton
American Diabetes Association Alert Day, intended to raise awareness of the risk factors for diabetes and encourage Americans to assess their own risks, is March 27th
. Diabetes is a health condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate its blood sugar, and although it affects over 29 million Americans, more than 25% of them may not know they have it.
The primary goal of the day is to encourage people to take the type 2 diabetes risk test, which only takes a minute to complete but can help you assess your own diabetes risk.
So what factors do affect your risk of diabetes? Here are eight:
The greater the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in your immediate family, the greater risk you have of developing it yourself. Although there is no distinct inheritance pattern (meaning diabetes isn’t necessarily passed down from generation to generation), research does show that certain genetic markers make you more susceptible to diabetes. If you have a family member (or members) with diabetes, you are more likely to develop it yourself.
Even if you don’t know of any family members with diabetes, they could simply be undiagnosed.
Your weight is the single biggest predictor of developing type 2 diabetes, and 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. When you are overweight, you put greater pressure on your body’s ability to produce and use insulin to control blood sugar levels, leading to a greater risk of diabetes. The rise of type 2 diabetes in the United States also correlates with the national rise in obesity.
The older you get, the greater the odds you have of developing diabetes. Your risk for diabetes begins to rise at age 45 and increases dramatically at age 65. Being young, however, doesn’t eliminate the risk – children and adolescents can develop type 2 diabetes, and those that do are at a higher risk of other complications such as heart and kidney disease.
- High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is both prevalent with diabetics and has been linked to a predisposition for diabetes.
- Lack of Exercise and Sedentary Lifestyles
A lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle are big contributors to diabetes. If you rarely exercise and spend much of your time sitting, you’re already at greater risk for diabetes, but you also may be contributing to other risk factors such as obesity or high blood pressure.
While regular exercise helps reduce your risk of diabetes, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Sitting for long periods of time - whether or not you get consistent exercise - can also increase your risk. If you have an office job, you should make an effort to break up all that time you spend sitting at your desk
Men are more likely to have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, although this risk could be due to men seeing the doctor less regularly than women.
Different races and ethnic groups are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than others. African Americans, American Indians, Mexican Americans, and Asian Americans are among the groups that have a higher risk.
- Gestational Diabetes
If you had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, you also have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Assessing Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Certain risk factors for type 2 diabetes, such as age, gender, and race, are beyond your control. But other factors, such as level of activity, weight, and blood pressure, can be improved. For American Association Diabetes Alert Day, make sure to take the test
to determine your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and then take action to reduce that risk level!