While eating too much sugar is among the leading causes of developing type 2 diabetes, some people tend to oversimplify the matter and consider that the only risk, even if things are more complicated than this. In actual fact, there are numerous genetic and lifestyle factors that can cause a person to develop diabetes during their lifetime. Note that juvenile or type 1 diabetes appears at an early age and comes with specific risk factors unrelated to a person’s lifestyle. Either way, we’re here to present the seven risk factors for both types of diabetes.
Obesity or Being Overweight
Having an elevated BMI or being obese is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. A high BMI can be due to a variety of different factors that range from too little exercise or a poor and unhealthy diet.
More information is offered by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease on their website through body max index charts on their website so that you can fairly accurately gauge risk. Note though that the risk factor depends on ethnicity. For example, if you’re Asian American, you have a higher chance of developing diabetes with a BMI greater than 23. Going further, Pacific Islanders have a limit of 26, and everyone else 25 when it comes to BMI.
A Family History of Diabetes
The Mayo Clinic published an article recently covering important facts about type 1 diabetes, which is thought of as an autoimmune disorder that stops a patient’s ability to break down carbs and blood glucose through their pancreas.
They explain that the risk of developing type 1 diabetes is increased slightly if you have a family history of the illness. Moreover, an increased risk of type 1 diabetes has also been linked to certain genes.
Having Big Babies
This might be a little known fact amongst the general population, but giving birth to a baby heavier than 9 pounds is a significant risk for type 2 diabetes. Having gestational diabetes can also increase the chances of developing the disease at a later time, besides negatively affecting the mother and child if not properly managed and treated.
High Cholesterol Levels
Having high levels of “bad” or LDL cholesterol in blood tests is one more risk for type 2 diabetes. And those who are already diabetics can develop even more serious problems if their high LDL count is left untreated, according to the American Heart Association.
Unfortunately, diabetes lowers “good” or HDL cholesterol and raises triglyceride and HDL levels. In turn, this leads to a higher risk of stroke and heart disease and is a condition common for this disease called diabetic dyslipidemia.
Little to No Exercise
While eating fatty food in moderation is a good first step, it doesn’t release you from the risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to a lack of exercise, reports John Muir Health. When you lose weight from eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise, your muscle cells tend to use glucose and insulin with more efficiency, thus lowering risk. Muscles tend to lose sensitivity to insulin with too little exercise or physical activity, so staying active is important if you want to prevent or postpone diabetes.
Autoimmune disorders, like type 1 diabetes, can increase your chances of developing it, even if you’re past childhood. Autoimmune conditions that can affect the onset of diabetes include multiple sclerosis, pernicious anemia (causes Vitamin B-12 deficiency), and Grave’s disease (affects the thyroid gland).
Middle or Old Age
According to HealthLine, age can be a significant factor when it comes to type 2 diabetes. Older or middle-age people have the highest chance of getting type 2 diabetes, with reports from 2012 noting that people between 45 and 64 were the ones most often diagnosed, besides this being the age range with the fastest rate of diabetes development. Among 1.7 million new diabetes patients in 2012, about 370,000 were aged 22 to 44, close to 900,000 were between 45 and 64, and 400,000 patients were 65 or older.
As you can see, many different things can increase your risk of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Genetics, family history, and lifestyle choices all play a big role in whether you end up getting diagnosed, so it’s best to minimize everything you can control, as well as monitor and maintain your health if you’re already a diabetic.
- “Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes,” NIH, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/risk-factors-type-2-diabetes
- “Type 1 diabetes,” Mayo Clinic,
- “Cholesterol abnormalities and diabetes,” Heart Organization,
- “Preventing diabetes,” John Muir Health, https://www.johnmuirhealth.com/health-education/conditions-treatments/diabetes-articles/preventing-diabetes.html