You are at risk of diabetes if you are obese, do not exercise, have high blood pressure and cholesterol, someone in your family has been diagnosed with diabetes or you have had gestational diabetes.
Millions of people throughout the world are obese, which is one of the biggest risk factors of diabetes. One in six adults in India is obese according to the world health statistics.1
In addition to adults, more and more children are now developing obesity. About 12% of school going children in urban areas in India is obese.2
Overweight and obesity
Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal (or excessive) fat accumulation in the body that may impair health.
Body mass index is an index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to define obesity and overweight. It is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of his height in meters.
The WHO definition is:
A BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight
A BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obesity
Lack of exercise
A sedentary lifestyle is one without sufficient exercise and is seriously damaging to health.
Being inactive often leads to obesity, which can lead to pre-diabetes and then eventually type-2 diabetes.
Staying active increases insulin sensitivity and helps the body insulin to be more effective in blood glucose control.
A sedentary lifestyle is common in both the developed and developing countries. Sitting, reading, watching television, playing video games and use of computer for much of the day with little physical exercise are part of the sedentary type of lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to many physical ailments that are otherwise avoidable.
If a close member of the family has diabetes, it increases the risk of developing diabetes.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about your genes, but you can be ready by being aware of the symptoms of type-2 diabetes and avoiding other risk factors, like being obese.
Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to genetic history than type 1.
Lifestyle too plays an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes. There are similar eating habits within a family and hence obesity tends to run in families.
If you have a family history of type-2 diabetes, it may be difficult to pinpoint whether your diabetes is due to faulty lifestyle or genetic factors. Probably it is due to both, but it is possible to delay or reverse the onset of diabetes by lifestyle changes and by reducing weight.
Insulin resistance tends to increase with age. Also, the pancreas work less efficiently as age progresses. Hence the tendency to develop diabetes increases with age.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol
High blood pressure and high cholesterol put you at an increased risk for a number of diseases and are two major symptoms for pre-diabetes.
Having increased blood sugar levels during pregnancy puts you at an increased risk for developing diabetes in the future.
Smoking has been identified as a possible risk factor for insulin resistance, a precursor for diabetes. Smoking has also been shown to deteriorate glucose metabolism which may lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes.