Type 2 Diabetes: Causes & Risk Factors

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin – a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. Exactly why this happens is unknown, although genetics and modifiable lifestyle factors, such as being overweight, inactive or having an unhealthy diet, seem to be contributing factors.

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Researchers don’t thoroughly understand why some people have type 2 diabetes while others don’t. However, there are certain factors putting you at significant risk for developing type 2 diabetes including:

  • Weight. Being obese or overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Four out of five people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. Although not everyone with insulin resistance develops diabetes, people with insulin resistance are at increased risk of the condition.
  • Fat distribution. Storing fat mainly in your abdomen puts you at higher risk of type 2 diabetes than storing fat elsewhere in your body, such as your hips and thighs.
  • Physical Inactivity. As body fat interacts with insulin and other hormones to affect diabetes development, the less active you are, the higher your risk of type 2 diabetes is. Regular exercises help you control your weight, use up glucose as energy and improve insulin sensitivity of your cells.
  • Genetics. Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased if your close relatives such as your parent or sibling have the condition.
  • Ethnicity. It is unclear but people of certain races — including black Africans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the rest of the population are.
  • Age. Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age, especially after 45. That’s probably because people tend to exercise less, gain weight, and loss muscle as they get older. However, over recent years, it’s also becoming more common for children, in some cases as young as seven, to have the condition.
  • Prediabetes Prediabetes means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as full-blown diabetes. Without intervention, prediabetes is likely to progress to type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes. Developing gestational diabetes when you were pregnant increases your risk for developing the condition later on. Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms) also puts you at high risk of the condition.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovarian syndrome — a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity —heighten the risk of diabetes.

By and large, lifestyle choices also do play a major role in the development of type 2 diabetes so take good care of your body.

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