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Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

What Are They?

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. That means it happens slowly over a long period of time. In fact, many people who have type 2 diabetes don’t know it. They are undiagnosed, meaning their type 2 diabetes has not been identified (diagnosed) and, as a result, not treated. This puts them at risk for getting complications from their type 2 diabetes like amputations and kidney disease. This handout reviews risk factors that increase a person’s chance of getting type 2 diabetes.

Age

Risk for type 2 diabetes increases with age. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people be tested for type 2 diabetes starting at age 45, especially if they are overweight or obese.

diabetes-age

Obesity

Having a high amount of excess body fat also ups type 2 diabetes risk. Your healthcare provider will calculate your body mass index, or BMI, which is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight. The ADA says that all people with a BMI higher than 25 (or higher than 23 if you’re Asian American) plus 1 or more other risk factors should be tested for type 2 diabetes—no matter what their age is.

Other Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

  • Not getting enough physical activity (exercise)
  • Having a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes.
  • First-degree relatives are your parents, your brothers and sisters, and your children.
  • Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Having a history of heart disease (car-di-o-vas-cu-lar disease)
  • Being a member of these races or ethnicities—African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander
  • Having an A1C higher than 5.7%. A1C is an average of your blood glucose over 3 months. An A1C is one of the tests that can be used to diagnose type 2 diabetes.

Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk

Early diagnosis is important for any disease or condition, and this is really true for type 2 diabetes. Talking with your healthcare provider about your risk means you can take action early to prevent type 2 diabetes if you don’t have it—or treat it early if you do.

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