The more risk factors an individual has, the greater his/her likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Individuals with any of the above risk factors should talk to a health professional about how to lower their risk, and discuss whether testing is needed.
An excessively high body weight increases diabetes risk. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple, widely accepted means of assessing body weight in relation to health for most people aged 20 to 65 (exceptions include people who are very muscular, athletes, pregnant or nursing.) A BMI greater than 27 indicates a risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes, and other health problems including cardiovascular disease and premature death. As the implications of the BMI are not the same for everyone, you should discuss your BMI with your physician if it is too high (or too low) according to the chart.
Individuals who carry most of their weight in the trunk of their bodies (i.e., above the hips) tend to have a higher risk of diabetes than those of similar weight with a pear-shaped body (excess fat carried mainly in the hips and thighs). A waist measurement of more than 100 cm (39.5 inches) in men and 95 cm (37.5 inches) in women suggests increased risk.
Age increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. While most diabetes occurs in older persons, it should be noted that the appearance of Type 2 Diabetes in children is being increasingly reported in medical literature.
Being overweight - another risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes - can be prevented by regular physical activity. A second, independent benefit of regular physical activity is improved blood sugar control in persons who already have Type 2 Diabetes.
The genetic link for Type 2 Diabetes is stronger than the genetic link for Type 1. Having a blood relative with Type 2 Diabetes increases the risk. If that person is a first-degree relative (e.g., a parent, sibling or child), the risk is even higher.
History of Diabetes in Pregnancy
Nearly 40 percent of the women who have diabetes during their pregnancy go on to develop Type 2 Diabetes later, usually within five to ten years of giving birth. Giving birth to a baby that weighs more than nine pounds (4 kg) is another symptom of gestational Diabetes.
Impaired Glucose Tolerance
Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose can precede the development of Type 2 Diabetes. These conditions are determined through blood tests. While persons affected with these problems do not meet the diagnostic criteria for diabetes, their blood sugar control and reaction to sugar loads are considered to be abnormal. This places them at higher risk, not just for the development of Type 2 Diabetes (an estimated one in ten progress to Type 2 Diabetes within five years), but also for cardiovascular disease. For this group, preventive strategies -- including lifestyle changes and regular screening for Diabetes Mellitus -- must be a priority.
Being of African, Latin American or Asian ethnic ancestry increases the risk of developing of Type 2 Diabetes. Risk levels for these groups are between two and six times higher than for those of Caucasian origin.
High Blood Pressure
Up to 60 percent of people with undiagnosed diabetes have high blood pressure.
High Cholesterol or Other Fats in the Blood
More than 40 percent of people with diabetes have abnormal levels of cholesterol and similar fatty substances that circulate in the blood. These abnormalities appear to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease among persons with diabetes.
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