Are You at Risk of Diabetes? Here Are 11 Risk Factors You Should Know
Your body must properly consume, absorb, and store the sugar from the food and drinks you intake. This metabolic process is aided by insulin that is released by the pancreas. If this vital bodily function is hindered, it results in a chronic disease called diabetes. Diabetic people either cannot properly metabolize insulin or, worse, their pancreas does not produce enough.
There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational. Type 2 diabetes is directly linked to bad lifestyle habits. That means that anyone can be susceptible to it. The upside to that is how it’s the most avoidable among the three types.
Prevention of this disease begins with knowing diabetes risk factors. Here are the most oft-cited by experts.
Diabetes risk factors1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Type 2 diabetes is preventable as long as you look out for common diabetes causes.
Mind your weight. The ideal body mass index (BMI) for adults is between 18.5 and 24.9. The higher the BMI, the more at risk you are of diabetes. A BMI of 30 or higher equates to obesity. That increases your likelihood of contracting diabetes due to high levels of inflammation and fatty acids.
Mind your waistline as well. The body stores fat, but if yours are stored mostly in your midsection, be concerned. A man with a waistline above 40 inches or a woman with a waistline above 35 is more at risk of getting diabetes.
3. Bad fat vs. good fat
Your blood needs a sufficient supply of good fat, a.k.a. lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which ideally should be at least 40 milligrams per deciliter. Meanwhile, triglycerides should not go beyond 150 mg/dL. If you have more triglycerides in your bloodstream than needed and not enough good fat, your chances of being diagnosed with diabetes are higher.
4. Age matters
The older you get, the more reason you have to be wary of the onset of diabetes. The number to remember is 45—a diabetes diagnosis is most prevalent among people aged 45 to 64. The is because of the body’s declining metabolic functions.
5. Family history
Genetic predisposition to diabetes has long been considered as a legitimate risk factor, if not entirely conclusive. Suppose one of your parents or siblings has been diagnosed with the disease. In that case, you may want to get regularly tested, especially if you are experiencing symptoms associated with the disease.
Physical activity not only keeps your weight in control but also ensures that you use up any surplus glucose in your body as energy. Insulin sensitivity also results from regular exercise, which helps move glucose to the muscles for energy. A sedentary lifestyle leads you to the opposite.
7. Ethnic and racial background
Diagnosis of diabetes is most prevalent among African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and Asians. That makes Filipinos at a higher risk, with a one-in-five chance of contracting diabetes.
8. Impaired glucose tolerance
The average blood sugar level is less than 140 mg/dL. Between 140 and 199 mg/dL is considered prediabetes, a.k.a. impaired glucose tolerance. This usually worsens to type 2 diabetes if not treated properly.
9. Diabetes among pregnant women
Moms who developed diabetes while pregnant (gestational) are at risk of eventually getting type 2 diabetes. The same goes for those who gave birth to babies weighing more than 9 lbs.
10. Dark spots
If you notice that some parts of your body are darkening, such as the neck, armpits, and ankles, consult with your doctor since this is a symptom of insulin resistance. This metabolic syndrome does not automatically equate with type 2 diabetes, but the risk is there.
If you are taking medication for depression or other mental health conditions, weight gain may happen as a side effect. This increases your risk of getting diabetes.
Live a sweet life sans diabetes
According to the World Health Organization, diabetes affects 422 million people worldwide, and 1.6 million people die from it each year. These staggering figures tell you one thing: diabetes must be taken seriously.
If you suspect you or a loved one is at risk, it is vital to make some lifestyle changes. Healthy eating, paired with regular exercise, among other preventive measures, will lower your chances of susceptibility. Life can be so much sweeter when spared from the burdens of this disease. Whatever sacrifices you have to make for diabetes prevention will be worth it.
For more relevant information, please visit our website! While you are at it, why not take the Heart Disease Risk Checklist, too? That will help you gauge your risk of developing coronary heart disease, which is another medical condition closely linked to diabetes, in simple yes-no questions.
Last medically reviewed on March 15, 2021