Risk factors for diabetes can be divided into 2 major types:
1. Non-modifiable / irreversible factors (which cannot be modified no matter what)
2. Modifiable / reversible factors (which can be modified with appropriate measures)
Non-modifiable factors include:
1. Age: Risk for type 2 diabetes increases as you grow older, but it’s been well established now that Indians get it earlier than westerners.
2. Family history of diabetes: The chances of developing diabetes increase proportionately with number of family members diagnosed with diabetes; especially 1st degree family history (having parents or siblings with diabetes) is closely related.
3. Race / Ethnicity: For example, Asians have higher risk than others because of their genetic peculiarities (they are thin in appearance but fat when we analyse body composition).
Modifiable risk factors are as follows:
- Being overweight and obese: It is the commonest modifiable risk factor.
- Abdominal Obesity: Fat deposition around abdomen makes a person prone to develop diabetes. In males if waist circumference exceeds 90 cms & in females if it crosses 80 centimeters, it is considered as abdominal obesity.
- Physical inactivity, sedentary lifestyle & desk job
- Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes—diabetes first found during pregnancy
- High blood pressure—140/90 or above—or being treated for high blood pressure
- Giving birth to a big baby (weighing more than 3.5 kg)
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- History of heart disease
- Abnormal lipid profile: HDL or “good” cholesterol level below 35 mg/dL or Triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL is said to carry higher risk
- Unhealthy dietary patterns: Eating junk & fried food, intake of excessive sweets make you put on weight & thus indirectly adds on to diabetes risk.
- Stress: Though it is an integral part of modern lifestyle, makes one vulnerable.
If you have risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, you should be tested more frequently & modifiable risk factors should be tacked effectively to prevent diabetes.