Risk Factors for Diabetes


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About risk factors: Risk factors for Diabetes are factors that do not seem to be a direct cause of the disease, but seem to be associated in some way. Having a risk factor for Diabetes makes the chances of getting a condition higher but does not always lead to Diabetes. Also, the absence of any risk factors or having a protective factor does not necessarily guard you against getting Diabetes. For general information and a list of risk factors, see the risk center.

Risk factor list: The list of risk factors mentioned for Diabetes in various sources includes:

Risk factors discussion: You are more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, are overweight, are inactive, or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. You are also at high risk if diabetes runs in your family or if you are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. 1

To find out your risk for type 2 diabetes, check each item that applies to you.

I have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.
My family background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander.
I have had gestational diabetes or I gave birth to at least one baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
I have been told that my blood glucose is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. In other words, I have impaired glucose tolerance or an impaired fasting glucose level.
I am overweight. My weight is at least 20 percent higher than it should be for my height. (See the body mass index table.)
I am fairly inactive. I exercise fewer than three times a week.
My blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or I have been told that I have high blood pressure.
My cholesterol levels are not normal. My LDL cholesterol is higher than 100; my HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) is 35 or lower; or my triglyceride level is 250 or higher.

If you checked one or more boxes, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. If you checked more than three boxes, your chances of getting diabetes are high. It is important to lower your risk by working on the factors under your control.1

People at High Risk for Diabetes The experts suggest that adults age 45 years and older be tested for diabetes. If their blood glucose is normal at the first test, they should be tested at 3-year intervals. People under age 45 should be tested if they are at high risk for diabetes. These high-risk factors include

  • Being more than 20 percent above ideal body weight or having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than or equal to 27. BMI is the ratio of weight in kilograms to height in meters squared (kg/m2 ). (Your doctor or dietitian can provide information on your BMI.)

  • Having a mother, father, brother, or sister with diabetes.

  • Being African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic American, or Pacific Islander American.

  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or having diabetes during pregnancy.

  • Having blood pressure at or above 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

  • Having abnormal blood lipid levels, such as high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol less than 35 mg/dL or triglycerides greater than 250 mg/dL.

  • Having abnormal glucose tolerance when previously tested for diabetes.

2

Other things that can put you at higher risk for developing diabetes include:

  • Being more than 20 percent above your ideal body weight

  • Having a mother, father, brother, or sister with diabetes

  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or having diabetes during pregnancy

  • Having high blood pressure (140/90 or higher)

  • Having abnormal blood lipid levels, such as low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides

  • Having abnormal glucose tolerance in an earlier diabetes test.

3

Risks factors for Diabetes: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to risk factors for Diabetes:



Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Am I at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: NIDDK
2. excerpt from Diabetes Diagnosis: NIDDK
3. excerpt from Diabetes: NWHIC

Last revision: April 10, 2003

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