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Known risks for Type 2 diabetes

Updated on April 20, 2015

Copyright 2012-2013, Kris Heeter, Ph.D.

Recent statistics from the American Diabetes Association indicate that 8.3% of the population in the United States has diabetes -- that number includes children and adults.

Over 8.8 million people have been diagnosed and it is estimated that there are another 7.0 million people that have gone undiagnosed.

What's even more alarming is that a whopping 79 million people have "pre-diabetes" -- at least one in four adults in the United States. Pre-diabetes is a condition that is likely to develop into type 2 diabetes within 10 years unless preventative measures are taken.

What is pre-diabtes and who is at risk?

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-dibetes refers to blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not yet in the diabetic range – a condition often referred to as impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).

Beginning in 2011, both fasting glucose and A1C levels were used to derive estimates for undiagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes. Statistics are reported on a National Diabetes Fact Sheet available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pre-diabetes is clearly becoming more common in the United States. Those that are considered pre-diabetic typically do not have symptoms. The diagnosis is based on blood sugar testing.

It’s important to note that having pre-diabetes does not mean that diabetes is inevitable. Weight loss and increased physical activity can prevent or delay diabetes onset in those diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Increased activity and weight loss can return blood glucose levels to normal.

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists the following risk factors for prediabetes and diabetes:

  • being overweight or obese
  • being physically inactive (exercising less than 3 days a week)
  • having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • having a family background that is American Indian, African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander
  • giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • being diagnosed with gestational diabetes (diabetes found during pregnancy)
  • having high blood pressure - 140/90 mmHg or above
  • being treated for high blood pressure
  • having HDL ("good," cholesterol) below 35 mg/dL
  • having a triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL
  • having polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
  • having previously tested positive for impaired fasting glucose (IFG)
  • having tested positive for impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)
  • having other condition called acanthosis nigricans , characterized by a dark, velvety rash around the neck or armpits
  • having a history of cardiovascular disease

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Other chronic conditions and diseases associated with diabetes

The following diseases and chronic conditions have been linked to diabetes:

· heart disease

· stroke

· sleep apnea or sleep deprivation

· depression

· chronic inflammation

· cancer

Those with diabetes are at least twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke compared to as someone who does not have diabetes. People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease or will have strokes at an earlier age.

Research studies indicate that people who are treated for type 2 diabetes have higher incidences of depression. And conversely, a least one study links individuals that are depressed with an increase risk of diabetes.

There is now increasing evidence indicating that people with diabetes are more likely to develop certain kinds of cancer. There are many common risk factors for both cancer and diabetes: most notably weight and a diet poor in fruits, veggies, and whole-grains.

Who should be tested for pre-diabetes or diabetes?

The CDC recommends that anyone 45 years or older should consider getting tested for diabetes, especially those that are overweight.

Those that are under the age 45, should also consider being tested if overweight and have one or more of the additional risk factors listed above.



Studies have found that moderate weight loss and exercise can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes among adults that have high risk factors.

Research shows that moderate diet and exercise of about 30 minutes or more, 5 or more days per week typically results in a 5% to 7% weight loss.

There are easy ways to assess how much physical activity you get each week. First, log your exercise for a week or two - keeping track of how many days and the duration of each session. From there, compare it with the CDC recommendations and make changes as needed. The CDC recommends at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week - or 2.5 hours a week spread out over 3 days or more.

Next assess what you daily food plate looks like at each meal. Is two thirds of the food you eat fruits, veggies and whole-grains? If it’s less than that, take steps to eliminate processed carbs, sugar, and other processed foods and exchange those with more fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains.

Always discuss any changes you are making in your daily diet and exercise with your doctor. As you trend towards a healthier lifestyle, changes in blood sugar and other factors like cholesterol should be monitored.


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    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Excellent Hub! My mother was a diabetic and two of her sisters were also. I have a blood glucose test done onece a years because I'm afraid I'll get it too. You have some good info here. I voted this UP, etc.etc.

    • onthegrind profile image

      onthegrind 6 years ago from Florida, United States

      Very informative hub - easy to read and understand as well. I wasn't aware of some of the risk factors. Diabetes is prevalent in my family. Definitely need to be aware of these facts. Voted up, interesting, and shared.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @Jeannieinabottle: hopefully you can get back to the healthy range with going back to what you were doing before. It's sort of a long term lifestyle change and I now how hard it can be at times to stick with the healthy habits:) Good luck!

      @FordeAhern: enjoy your lemon and hot water - an excellent drinking choice!

      @Lady_E, @missolive, @pharmacist, @Judi Bee, @Cloverleaf and @Curian: thanks for stopping by and contributing to the discussion! I'm glad many of you found some aspect of the article useful!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @Vinaya - thanks for adding to the discussion. I hope you mom can bring her sugar down to the appropriate level on her own. It's a tough battle but I've personally worked with several clients through diet and exercise and they have been able to do it.

    • FordeAhern profile image

      FordeAhern 6 years ago from Broadford, Co. Limerick. ireland

      Very well written, thank you, I am going back to my lemon and hot water straight away. Loads of information. voted up and interesting.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for raising awareness. I learnt more about Diabetes.

      Great share.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 6 years ago from UK

      My father has diabetes, as did his mother, so I am always interested in reading about how to cut my risk. Great hub, voted up.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      This is really useful information. I was considered Prediabetic for a while, but I lost weight, exercised more, and ate less sugar. The doctor said I was doing well and no longer at risk at that time. Of course, then I started eating more and gaining weight. So now, I have to go back to my diet and exercise plan again. This is great information for someone that does not realize small changes can really turn their health around. Voted up!

    • pharmacist profile image

      Jason Poquette 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA

      Excellently written and very informative Kris. I have been working on getting my weight down as my own blood sugar has been rising slowly. My BMI is just on the border between normal and thankfully I don't have too much to lose. Keep up the great work!

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Very interesting information here. I had never come across the term "Prediabetes" before so you've taught me something new today. It's good to know what to watch for. Voted up and useful.

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 6 years ago from Texas

      excellent info. It is very important to know the things to look out for. Diabetes runs strong in my mom's family and I meet at least three items on the checklist. I need to remain vigilant.

      Thank you for sharing - voted up

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 6 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      My last test showed that I was in the prediabetes range even though I an underweight. I appreciate the great research and information!

      Voted Up!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Recently my mother's blood taste report showed sugar level little high. I read this thoroughly, you have made this hub very informative.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      This is an excellent article on the dangers of diabetes and what you can do to prevent it. The information is explained very well.

      Rated up!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @tsmog - I wish you well on finding that balance! And thanks for pointing out the link problem. It appears to be broken, so I'll get those fixed!

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Hello Kris. A very informative hub! Packed full of valuable information connecting the elements of cardiovascular health, sleep, and mental health with diabetes.

      Accepting synchronicity this article is helpful in a quest I ventured today - reorganizing my life with wellness/health as the center. Beginning back in Sept with a series about Balancing Bipolar Disorder with Wellness I got off track. My last article on Fear I believe is the conclusion to being off track. I believe this article is leading toward being back On the Right Track. Popping up today it is a healthy reminder regarding that balance, which included diabetes.

      Yep, either there are cameras focused on me, a conspiracy theory in the mix, or it is synchronicity. Thank you - smile.

      Before I forget it appears the links for the related articles are not operational. (Or it is my PC/server connection).

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @blissfulwriter, M0rd0r, RNMSN and kellyward-

      Thanks for the comments. It's sad that it's become so prevalent in our society. Hopefully with more education we can turn the statistics around!

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      fantastically written, moves right along and is chock full of pertinent life saving information! well done!Now, if only we humans will paid heed.

    • m0rd0r profile image

      Stoill Barzakov 6 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

      Very good research Kris.

      I voted up.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      Great article for those who might be struggling with pre-diabetes. Voted up and useful!

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 6 years ago

      To avoid diabetes, I'm trying to say away from sugar and high glycemic carbohydrate as much as I can. Of course exercise -- both aerobic and resistance training are good measures too. I sometime walk or run while carrying dumbbells on both hands.