Who is at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

Everyone has a distinctive family history and background. Depending on our genetics, some of us may be able to get away with practicing poor lifestyle habits such as high-sugar diets and little exercise; others will begin to experience the harsher effects of this type of negative life style, such as developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that you can always start to introduce healthier habits and then the likelihood of developing diabetes can dramatically decrease. If you start to introduce a mixture of positive, healthy eating habits as well as increasing your activity level, you will begin to see positive changes to your health – on both the inside and the outside of your body!

Ignoring your risk for developing type 2 diabetes just isn’t wise. Early detection is key, especially since type 2 diabetes is on the rise. I believe that if you have insulin resistance you likely already have metabolic syndrome and are heading towards type 2 diabetes. Paying attention to where you are today can help prevent you from becoming part of this growing statistic. It’s important to understand that whether you are at higher risk of developing diabetes or already have it, type 2 diabetes can be prevented, treated and even reversed by making healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle.

Common Risk Factors

Here are some of the most common risk factors associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes:

  • Being over the age of 45 years
  • Being overweight/having meaning having a BMI greater than 24 (note that this cut-off point is lower than for men)
  • Having a first-degree relative (sibling or parent) with diabetes
  • Being of African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent
  • Having had or have gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing greater than nine pounds
  • Having blood glucose levels greater than 99 mg/dL is an early marker
  • Having blood pressure readings commonly 140/90 or higher is another early marker
  • Having lipid profiles that show high LDL “bad” or unbalanced cholesterol (your HDL is less than 35 mg/dL or your triglyceride level is over 250 mg/dL) Triglyceride levels are an easy first marker to watch as the correlation is so high between elevated levels and insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome
  • Leading an inactive lifestyle
  • Having darkening skin around the neck or armpits (acanthosis nigricans)
  • Having blood vessel problems that affect the heart, brain or legs

A number of these common risk factors for diabetes are interrelated. For example, if you’re overweight you’re more likely to have high blood pressure, unbalanced cholesterol levels and blood vessel problems. Therefore, the more factors you check off on the above list, the greater your overall risk is. It is important to understand that those of us who follow the modern “Western diet” of over-processed foods, refined sugar products, preservatives, and low fiber are automatically at a much higher risk for developing diabetes than those who eat diets high in fresh, whole foods.

You Can Impact Your Risk Profile

I can’t say it enough, you will be a lot better off if you find out your risk of developing type 2 diabetes early. No matter how bad your risk may appear, there is always hope. There are always ways to prevent this disease or lessen its impact, but you have to know where you stand first. You are in control when it comes to your health. If you pay attention and make some positive, healthy changes in your life, it’s never too late to change your risk profile!