Diabetes is common health problem and it has become common even in developing and underdeveloped countries. Previously diabetes was common in developed countries due to several risk factors, but it has become common in almost every part of the world and reached epidemic proportions in many countries.
It is important for all of us to know about diabetes and the risk factors associated with diabetes, to know if we (you and I) are at risk of developing diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. There are various risk factors for diabetes and they can be broadly grouped into modifiable (risk can be reduced by making changes in lifestyle and other aspects) and non-modifiable (risk cannot be reduced) risk factors. It is more important to learn about modifiable risk factors of diabetes, because they can be modified in your favor to reduce risk of developing diabetes as well as several other chronic medical disorders.
Modifiable risk factors of diabetes:
Overweight and obesity:
Overweight (BMI or body mass index of 25 to 29.9) and obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) is a risk factor for developing diabetes. Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9. Obese individuals are at higher risk of developing diabetes in compare to normal body weight individuals. The greater the body weight or BMI the greater is the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
If you are physically inactive, you are at higher risk of diabetes. Physical activity less than three times a week (for at least 30 minutes per activity) is a risk factor for diabetes. Be active physically to prevent diabetes.
High blood pressure or more than 140/90 mmHg is a risk factor for diabetes. If you have hypertension, take medications regularly and adopt healthy lifestyle and eating habits to reduce high blood pressure and reduce risk of diabetes.
Abnormal cholesterol level:
If your lipid profile is abnormal (low HDL and high LDL and triglycerides), you are at greater risk of diabetes.
Pre-diabetes or IGT:
If your blood sugar is, more than normal but less than diabetic level than you are pre-diabetic or you have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). You are pre-diabetic if your fasting blood glucose is 100-125 mg/dl and post-prandial (2 hours after food) blood glucose is 140-199 mmHg/dl. If you are pre-diabetic you have great risk of developing diabetes within few years. If you are pre-diabetic take measures (in consultation with your physician/diabetologist) to reduce risk of diabetes or delay development of diabetes.
Non-modifiable risk factors of diabetes:
If you are 45 years or older you are at risk of developing diabetes. Unfortunately we can do nothing or can not modify it.
If you have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes, you are at greater risk of developing diabetes than those who do not have.
High blood sugar during pregnancy:
If your blood sugar becomes high (diabetes) during pregnancy, but becomes normal after delivery, you are at greater risk of developing diabetes later. If you give birth to a large baby (9 pounds or more) you are at risk of diabetes as well as your large baby is at greater risk of diabetes.
Race and diabetes risk:
If you belong to certain race such as African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian American, South Asian, you are at higher risk of diabetes.
If you have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or a skin disease called acanthosis nigricans you are at high risk of diabetes.