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Diabetes Risk Factors

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include age, high blood pressure, an inactive lifestyle, and being overweight. Other risk factors include family history and ethnicity. If you are younger than 45, overweight, and have one or more of the risk factors for diabetes, you should consider being tested for type 2 diabetes.

Understanding Risk Factors for Diabetes

Diabetes research 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.
Healthy Eating for People With Diabetes

Prevention of Diabetes

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