Articles & Recipes

Identifying Risk Factors for Diabetes

November 3, 2018

An estimated 285 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes (a disease which is rapidly becoming the largest public health problem in the Westernized world). As our society becomes more overweight and the population ages, there are many more of us at risk for developing diabetes, according to author the of The Complete Diabetes Cookbook, Katherine E. Younker.

Risk factors for diabetes are many and, if you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, you may have had some of the risk factors identified below:

1. Do I have a family member with diabetes? There is an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in families with a history of diabetes. There is a genetic component to type 2 diabetes and this affects your risk of developing the disease. If you have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, your risk is about 40%, but if both of your parents had diabetes, that risk increases to 70%.

2. How old am I? The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age. All of our systems age with increasing years. With diabetes, there is a higher rate over age 40 and this increases every decade until the 80s. The longer you live, the greater your chances of developing diabetes.

3. Am I a woman who has delivered a child weighing over 9 lbs (4 kg)? Having a high birth weight baby may be a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Women who have given birth to a baby that weighed over 9 lbs at birth may have had gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in about 2–4% of all pregnancies, and some people may not have been diagnosed during their pregnancy. Many women with a history of gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes 5–20 years after this pregnancy. In fact, the risk increases with the number of pregnancies, as each additional pregnancy puts more strain on the pancreas.

4. Am I overweight? About 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Extra body weight makes it harder for your pancreas to function and/or the body becomes more resistant to insulin. Recent studies on prevention of type 2 diabetes found that loss of only 5–10% of body weight can prevent or delay the development of diabetes when coupled with regular physical activity.

What can you do to manage your diabetes and/or help prevent diabetes in family members? Eating a nutritious low-fat diet, weight maintenance or loss and regular physical activity appear now to be the best methods of preventing diabetes for the population at large. Interestingly, these are the same principles that apply to the prevention of many other chronic diseases as well.



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