Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, as the obesity epidemic continues in the U.S. In fact, one third of American adults are expected to have the disease by 2050, if this trend continues. There are both genetic and controllable risk factors for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends a screening every three years if you’re over the age of 45. If you're overweight, you should be screened more often.
Be aware of these diabetes risk factors:
Overweight or obese
Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for diabetes. Belly fat is especially risky because it makes it harder for insulin to process glucose in the liver. The fat blocks excess sugar from the liver and causes the glucose to stay in your bloodstream. Losing weight and building muscle is the most preventable step you can take to avoid diabetes.
Genetics increases your chances of getting diabetes. Check your family tree to see if your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have had diabetes.
Certain ethnic groups are more prone to diabetes. African-Americans, Native-Americans, Latinos, and some Asians and Pacific Islanders are at a greater risk. Race alone is not a cause, but if you have other factors--such as weight problems, smoking, family history--take heed.
Older than 45
With age comes wisdom and, alas, an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. If you're 45 or older, be sure to get your blood sugar levels tested every three years.
Stub out that cigarette. Smoking increases your risk of getting diabetes. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, chain smoking can triple your risk for type 2 diabetes in comparison to a non-smoker.
If you've been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, you can still prevent full-on type 2 diabetes. Also known as "impaired glucose tolerance," pre-diabetes occurs when glucose levels are higher than the ideal healthy norm, but not high enough to be diabetes. If your glucose levels are between 100 and 125 mg/dL, then you are in the pre-diabetes zone. Research shows that even as a pre-diabetic, you may be experiencing damage to your heart and circulatory system. Be more vigilant with your diet and exercise to lessen the risk of becoming diabetic.
Diabetes during pregnancy
Having a history of gestational diabetes can increase your chance for developing type 2 diabetes, especially in the 10 years after pregnancy. Gestational diabetes ends after your baby is born, but the health risk remains. Stay active, maintain a healthy post-baby weight, and eat balanced meals to help avoid type 2 diabetes.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) occurs when there is a hormone imbalance in a woman's ovaries. PCOS has been linked to high levels of insulin. According to studies, more than 50 percent of women with PCOS will develop pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Are you on the couch more than on the treadmill? Living a sedentary lifestyle causes weight gain and may lead to diabetes. No need to run a marathon. Start small by walking, dancing, swimming--anything that keeps your heart rate going. Aim for at least 20 minutes of activity at least three days a week.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is linked to diabetes. Monitor your levels to make sure your blood pressure is below 140/ 90 mmHg. If it's above that level, then you're at risk.
High cholesterol and fat levels
High cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes are all related. Make sure you monitor cholesterol and triglyceride fat levels to prevent heart disease. If your triglycerides are more than 250 mg/dL, you should be concerned. A low level of HDL (good) cholesterol – below 35 mg/dL – is a warning sign.
Published On: October 30, 2012