Understanding Risk Factors for Diabetes
scientists are not sure of the cause or causes of type 2 diabetes
. However, they do know certain factors that increase a person's chances of developing type 2 diabetes
. These are known as "diabetes risk factors." Specific risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Age. People over 45 years of age are at a higher risk for diabetes.
- Abnormal lipid levels. Men with an HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol") of less than 40 mg/dL and women with an HDL cholesterol of less than 50 mg/dL are at an increased risk for diabetes; people with triglyceride levels of 250 mg/dL or more are also at an increased risk.
- Overweight. People who are overweight, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25 (23 if Asian American; 26 if a Pacific Islander). BMI is discussed in more detail in a following section.
- Inactive lifestyle. People who exercise less than three times per week may be at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Family history. People with a parent or sibling with diabetes are at a higher-than-normal risk of getting the disease.
- Ethnicity. Statistics show that people of African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Island heritage have an increased risk of developing diabetes.
- Blood pressure. People with blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg are at increased risk (see High Blood Pressure).
- History of gestational diabetes. Women who have previously had gestational diabetes or given birth to at least one baby weighing 9 pounds or more are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.