Being overweight or being older may predispose you to diabetes. The more factors you have on this list below, the higher your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Age: The older you are, the more increased the risk of developing diabetes. Eighteen percent of people over the age of 65 have diabetes; eight percent between ages 21-and 64.

Family History: If you have an immediate family member (parent, brother or sister) with diabetes, you have a 40 percentrisk of developing diabetes.

Ethnicity: You are predisposed to develop diabetes if you are Alaska Native, American Indian (three times the risk), African American (1.7 times the risk), Hispanic/Latino (two times the risk), Asian American, or Pacific Islander.

Weight: The more overweight, and the longer you are overweight, the greater your risk of developing diabetes. For every 2.2 pounds you are over your target weight, you increase your risk by 4.5 percent. Body mass index over 25, or a waist circumference in men over 40 inches, women over 35 inches, indicates unhealthy weight.

Activity Level: Regular exercise, 30 minutes 3-4 times a week, can reduce your risk of diabetes by 42 percent, because exercise improves the use of insulin in your body. Not exercising regularly is considered a risk factor.

History of Gestational Diabetes: 2-5 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Forty percent of them will become diabetes in later years. Giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds may signal an increased risk for the mother to develop diabetes later.

High Blood Pressure: If you have high blood pressure (140/90mm Hg or higher), you have a 20 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.

High Blood Lipids: If your total cholesterol is over 200 mg/dL, triglycerides over 150mg/dL, HDL lower than 60mg/dL, and LDL over 100mg/dL, your risk to develop diabetes is increased.

Fasting Blood Glucose: A fasting blood glucose over 100 mg/dL may indicate that you have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Left untreated, 70 percent of people with impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes) will progress to diabetes. A fasting blood glucose of 126mg/dL and above on two occasions indicates diabetes. Random blood glucose value of 200mg/dL or more is indicative of diabetes. Know your numbers!

Smoking: Smoking is a health hazard. Active smokers have a 44 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (Source: JAMA Dec 12, 2007)

Additional Factors

These factors may also indicate a pre-disposition to developing type 2 diabetes:

- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Certain medications such as steroids
- Indicators of insulin resistance, such as acanthosis nigricans, a brown to black hyperpigmentation of the skin
- History of cardiovascular disease or metabolic syndrome
- Certain autoimmune diseases

Reviewed by Clara Schneider MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN - 05/13