What Are the Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes?

Did you know that your chances of developing type 2 diabetes depend on a combination of risk factors including genetics and general lifestyle habits? Certain facets like obesity, age, and family medical history may be risk factors that you’re not even aware of. Knowing and understanding the different causes of diabetes can help prevent or delay the development of this chronic health condition. Since some factors may impact you more than others, it’s important to start taking proper precautions early on. Not sure which applies to you? Below are more specific details about the different risk factors.


Obesity is the leading risk factor for diabetes

It’s no secret that being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, it is believed that obesity accounts for 80-85 percent of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, mainly due to insulin resistance. Being overweight stresses the insides of individual cells. More specifically, overeating stresses the membranous network inside of cells called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). When the ER has more nutrients to process than it can handle, it sends out an alarm signal telling the cell to reduce the insulin receptors on the cell surface. In turn, this translates to insulin resistance and high sugar glucose concentrations in the blood—one of the sure signs of diabetes. Obesity is also thought to trigger changes to your body’s metabolism. These changes cause fat tissue to release fat molecules into the blood, affecting insulin-responsive cells and leading to reduced insulin sensitivity. If you are overweight or have already been with diabetes, following a diabetes diet plan will help keep your blood glucose levels within safe limits so that you can feel your best and lower your risk of diabetes-related complications.


Your age can increase your risk of type 2

Your body undergoes a variety of changes throughout your lifetime, and unfortunately, as you get older, these changes can increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Simply put, as you age, your body doesn’t use the insulin it makes as well as it did when you were younger, which causes your blood glucose levels to rise. Your body also produces less of certain hormones, including the human growth hormone, which helps regulate body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar, and fat metabolism. Other hormones can be affected by aging, as well. For example, women will create less estrogen and progesterone as they get older, while men often produce less testosterone with age. These changes in your hormones can affect how your cells respond to insulin and can trigger fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. As you get older, you may also be more prone to illness and infections that can spike your blood sugar. With age being a major risk factor for diabetes, it’s important to have regular medical checkups and diabetes screenings beginning at age 45.


Family medical history is associated with diabetes

A family history of diabetes is associated with a range of metabolic abnormalities and is a strong risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. With that said, if you have an immediate family member (i.e., mother, father, or sibling) with diabetes, you are more likely to become diabetic yourself. You are almost more likely to have its precursor prediabetes, too. Case in point, a study involving more than 8,000 participants revealed that people with a family history of diabetes saw their risk of prediabetes increase by 26 percent. While the transmission of genetic information from parents to offspring contributes to the risk for diabetes, other nongenetic risk factors are shared by family members as well. These factors include sedentary behaviors such as television viewing and computer use. The good news is, even if you have a family history of diabetes, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by eating healthier, being physically active, and maintaining or reaching a healthy weight.

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