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Risk Factors for Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease. Although there are some risk factors you can’t change, there are other things you can do to lower your risk

Risk factors you can’t change include:

  • Age 45 or older
  • Race/Ethnicity – African Americans, American Indians, Asians, Hispanics/Latinos, and Pacific Islanders are at higher risk for diabetes
  • Family history of diabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes – having diabetes during pregnancy
  • History of polycistic ovarian syndrome

Risk factors you can change are:

  • Weight (being overweight or obese) – being at a healthy weight can help prevent diabetes and other chronic diseases. Studies show losing 5-7% of your weight can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes
  • Physical activity level – Regular physical activity can lower your risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases. Studies recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, or the equivalent of 20 minutes each day (CDC, 2015).
  • Diet – Healthy eating, including eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, is one of the most important steps you can take to lower your risk for diabetes.
  • Blood pressure – High blood pressure puts you at risk for diabetes. If you have high blood pressure, work with your health care provider to lower it. You can lower your blood pressure with lifestyle changes or prescribed medication.
  • Cholesterol – High cholesterol can raise your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Talk to your doctor about your cholesterol and ways to improve it.

Are you at Risk? Take the American Diabetes Association’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test.


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