Diabetes affects nearly 21 million Americans and about 95% of those have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the cells simply ignore the insulin all together. Either way, this lack of function will lead to unwanted symptoms and other complications. The following are the top risk factors for type 2 diabetes:
- Family History: If you have a family member such as a brother, sister, mother or father that has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes then you are at a higher risk of getting it. Your genetic makeup doesn’t guarantee that you will get type 2 diabetes, it only means you’re in a higher risk category than someone whose family has never had a history of diabetes.
- Age: Research has determined that roughly 21% of adults 60 years or older have diabetes. It’s a sad truth, but as we get older our risk for developing type 2 diabetes increases. This is because the pancreas ages along with us, which reduces its efficiency to pump insulin and even our cells themselves become more resistant to the insulin.
- Race and ethnicity: For reasons still unclear, African Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are all at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes than other races and ethnicities.
- Diet and lifestyle: Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle and eat foods that are high in fat, calories and cholesterol are more likely to get type 2 diabetes than those who lead a very healthy life. It’s important to exercise at least 5 times a week (even if it’s only for 30 minutes) and to eat a diet rich in fiber.
- History of gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes occurs solely in women while they are pregnant. It occurs because the hormones from the placenta cause the mother to become insulin resistant. Roughly 4 percent of pregnant women deal with this each year and about 40-60 percent get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within 15 years after giving birth.
Some of the top risk factors are genetically passed down so they are always with us, but other factors can be worked on to help reverse or prevent the advancing of type 2 diabetes. If you are disciplined and pay attention to your diabetes and meal planning, then you will be able to live a full, happy life with or without type 2 diabetes.