Risk Factors For Diabetes

by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

Who is at risk for type 2 diabetes?

Everyone has a distinctive family history and background. Depending on our genetics, some of us may be able to get away with practicing poor lifestyle habits such as high-sugar diets and little exercise, while others will begin to experience the harsher effects of this type of negative life style, such as developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that you can always start to introduce healthier habits and then the likelihood of developing diabetes can dramatically decrease. If you start to introduce a mixture of positive and healthy eating habits and increasing your activity level, positive health changes will begin to be seen both on the outside and on the inside of your body.

It’s always smart to consider and know your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Early detection is key, especially since its diagnosis levels are on the rise. At Women to Women, we believe that if you have insulin resistance then you already probably have metabolic syndrome and are heading towards type 2 diabetes. It is a good idea to assess where you are today so that you can prevent yourself from joining the growing numbers of individuals that are diagnosed every day. We want you to understand that whether you are at higher risk of developing diabetes or already have it, that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, treated and even reversed by making healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle.

Here are some of the most common risk factors associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes:

  • Being over the age of 45 years
  • Being overweight/having meaning having a BMI greater than 24 (note that this cut-off point is lower than for men)
  • Having a first-degree relative with diabetes, meaning a sibling or parent.
  • Being of African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent
  • Having had or have gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing greater than nine pounds
  • Having blood glucose levels greater than 99 mg/dL, this is an early marker
  • Having blood pressure readings commonly 140/90 or higher, this too is an early marker
  • Having lipid profiles that show high LDL “bad” or unbalanced cholesterol (your HDL is less than 35 mg/dL or your triglyceride level is over 250 mg/dL) Triglyceride levels are an easy first marker to watch as the correlation is so high between and an elevation and insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome
  • Leading an inactive lifestyle
  • Having darkening skin around the neck or armpits (acanthosis nigricans)
  • Having blood vessel problems that affect the heart, brain or legs

A number of these common risk factors for diabetes are interrelated. For example, if you’re overweight you’re more likely to have high blood pressure, unbalanced cholesterol levels and blood vessel problems. Therefore, the more factors you check off on the above list, the greater your overall risk is. It is important to understand that those of us who follow the modern “Western diet” of over-processed foods, refined sugar products, preservatives, and low fiber are automatically at a much higher risk for developing diabetes than those who eat diets high in fresh, whole foods.

I can’t say it enough, you will be a lot better off if you find out your risk of developing type 2 diabetes early. Keep in mind that no matter how bad your risk may appear, there is always hope. There are always ways to prevent this disease or lessen its impact. You are in control when it comes to your health. Also, if you pay attention and make some positive, healthy changes in your life, it’s never too late to change your risk profile!