Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

Risk Factors  

We still don't know exactly what causes diabetes, but scientists have a good idea of who is most likely to develop it

  • Diabetes is increasing among all racial groups in the U.S. due to more people who are overweight and who get little or no physical activity, but the diabetes rates are highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN)
  • According the IHS, at least 15% of all American Indians/Alaska Natives have diabetes
  • Some American Indian tribes (Tohono O'Odham, Pascua Yaqui) have the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world
    • As many as 50% of adult Tohono O'Odham have Type 2 Diabetes
  • American Diabetes Association says that there are over 18 million people with diabetes
  • There may be more but many have no symptoms and are undiagnosed

Who is at risk for getting "Type 2 diabetes"?

  • Type 2 diabetes is usually found in adults, but today AI/AN children are being diagnosed more often with type 2 diabetes, even as young as 5 years old
    • This is largely due to so many AI/AN children being overweight and less active
  • Being "at risk" means that you have a greater likelihood of developing a problem or condition than the average person
  • Sometimes knowing that you are at increased risk gives you the opportunity to avoid the problem
  • This is the case with diabetes
  • What makes someone more at risk?
    • ALL overweight adults and adolescents
    • Family history of diabetes
    • High blood fats (also called 'lipids'), such as high cholesterol or high triglycerides
    • High blood pressure
    • High fat diet
    • Little or no physical activity
    • History of gestational diabetes (diabetes of pregnancy)
    • History of giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
    • Having skin changes where the skin (especially around the back of the neck and armpits) becomes darker and velvety - called acanthosis nigricans
    • Being American Indian or Alaska Native
      • Because of the high rates of diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives all overweight adolescents and adults should be screened yearly for pre-diabetes and diabetes

Todays lifestyles and Weight Gain can bring on diabetes

  • Modern life has added to the increase in the number of people being overweight because they are not physically active
  • There has been a decrease in such daily activities such as farming, hunting, gathering, gardening, walking
  • Being overweight is a risk for diabetes
  • Being overweight increases blood sugar
  • This is why people with diabetes are asked to lose weight
  • Daily physical activity combined with healthy eating can lower body weight and lower blood sugar
  • Weight gain is a risk for diabetes
  • In many people as the weight goes up, the blood sugar goes up: from normal to pre-diabetes to diabetes
  • If you already have diabetes, the higher your weight, the higher the blood sugar is likely to be, unless you manage your diabetes well
  • To control your weight increase your physical activity every day and ask a nutritionist to help you with your diet
  • The high calorie diet
    • Will raise your blood sugar
    • Will increase your weight
  • Ask your health care provider to refer you to a nutritionist to evaluate your diet and help you plan a healthier way of eating
  • Being inactive is a risk for diabetes:
    • Physical activity is one of the most important factors in preventing and managing diabetes.
    • Ask your health care provider for an exercise prescription to help you control
      • Your blood sugar
      • Your blood pressure
      • Your cholesterol
      • Your weight

Genetics can put you at risk for diabetes

  • It has been shown that the higher your blood quantum, the more likely you are to develop diabetes
    • If you are full-blood, you're more likely to get type 2 diabetes than someone who is only 1/4
  • It is not clear why there is this genetic difference, but one theory is that at one time when food was not always plentiful, the body adjusted for these lean times by storing extra fat for this purpose
    • Trauma, stress, physical illnesses
    • Physical trauma, like being in a car accident, experiencing physical illness or extreme stress, can also trigger diabetes
    • Sometimes emotional trauma or stress from dealing with cancer or other threatening diseases can bring on diabetes