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Article 3 (Feb 2017): Risk Factors for Developing Diabetes

February 23, 2017

Type 2 Diabetes is a condition where the body becomes ineffective at removing sugar (glucose) from the blood stream. About 95 percent cases of diabetes are type 2, a lifestyle disease. Type 1 is an immune disease, generally diagnosed in children, in which the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
Several factors contribute to the increased risk of diabetes:

  • Weight: Fatty tissue increases the body's resistance to insulin.
  • Activity: Physical activity reduces blood glucose levels, by using it for movement, and helps increase insulin sensitivity.
  • Diet: Sugary foods and drinks set you up for bad health and diabetes. Highly processed carbohydrates such as white bread and rice contain little fiber and lots of starch that translates into sugar in your body. Your diet should contain high-fiber foods from beans, vegetables and fruits; whole grains in cereal such as oatmeal and in things you usually eat like bread or crackers.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease suggest that the following are also risk factors:

  • Age: After age 45 the risk of developing diabetes increases and poor lifestyle choices add to the risk.
  • High blood pressure: Anyone who has been told they have high blood pressure has a high likelihood of developing diabetes.
  • Smoking: Smokers are roughly 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
  • Ethnicity: People of South Asian, African, Indigenous and Caribbean descent are two- to four-times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
  • Family history: The risk increases by two to six times if you have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes (Diabetes UK).
  • History of gestational diabetes: Women who had gestational diabetes are at higher risk of later developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes prevention programs, which encourage weight loss, exercise and healthy eating, can reduce an individual's chance of developing diabetes by 58 percent, according to Harvard School of Public Health. Those who have one or more of the risk factors and are concerned about Type 2 diabetes should consult their doctor to check for any early signs of the disease. Having cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose checked by a doctor, and working to keep them at a normal level, is the best way to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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