Type 2 diabetes can develop for any number of reasons. The biggest risk factor is having a family history of the disease in combination with eating a typical Western diet, high in fried foods, saturated fats and sugars. Although you may not be able to avoid all type 2 diabetes risk factors, such as your family history, some factors are within your control, such as your weight.
Common risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Family history/unhealthy lifestyle. A parent, sibling or other family member has the disease and you live an unhealthy lifestyle, which includes being overweight, sedentary and eating a diet high in fat, carbohydrates and calories.
- Obesity. You have been overweight or obese for a long period of time.
- Age. People over age 45 are more likely to get diabetes.
- Cholesterol. Two types of this waxy fat reside in your bloodstream: HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Your risk for type 2 diabetes goes up if your HDL is less than 35 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL), your LDL is higher than 100 mg/dL or your triglycerides (another type of fat) are more than 250 mg/dL.
- High blood pressure. Pressure can build if your blood vessels become clogged or blocked. Normal blood pressure is less than 132/80.
- Race/ethnicity. Ethnicities at highest risk include African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American and Pacific Islander American.
- Gestational diabetes. You developed diabetes during pregnancy, or had a baby weighing nine pounds or more at birth.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome. A condition that affects a woman's sex hormones.