Most people associate extra body weight with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and that’s true, but it’s not the only risk factor.
Family history, age, and race are also risk factors.
If you have type 2 diabetes, it means your body doesn’t use insulin well. Your body can’t regulate normal blood sugar levels. While we can’t accurately explain why it happens, we do know what commonly increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
You may be at risk if you:
- Are 45 years old or older.
- Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk).
- Are overweight.
- Are physically active for less than 150 minutes a week.
- Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
- Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds.
- Have prediabetes.
- Have too much visceral fat, which may also increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Visceral fat is stored in our stomach and surrounds important internal organs. Research shows that visceral fat is an important factor in how our hormones work.
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) also matters.
- BMI is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. Most health professionals rely on BMI to assess whether their patients are overweight (overweight is a BMI of 25 or higher), or have obesity (a BMI of 30 or higher). All adults who are overweight should talk to their doctor about getting tested for type 2 diabetes.
- People of Asian heritage in the normal weight range may have too much visceral fat and be at risk of type 2 diabetes at a lower BMI than people of other heritages. Researchers now suggest that people of Asian heritage get tested if their BMI is 23 or higher.
You can prevent type 2 diabetes.
One indicator of developing type 2 diabetes is having prediabetes. Prediabetes means blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to yet be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. People who have prediabetes are at increased risk.
If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight (if you’re overweight) and getting regular physical activity can lower the chances of it developing into type 2 diabetes.
If you do have diabetes, getting support and education is critical. You and your healthcare provider can work together to find a program that can help you get the support and education you need through a national registry of such programs.
For our members
If you are member, you have access to programs that can help manage your health and your diabetes, if you have it. Learn about our diabetes prevention and management programs, such as access to Omada, a health management smartphone app that normally costs over $700 a year to use, but is free to our members.