What are the Risk Factors of Type 2 Diabetes?

Dr. Ch. Mounika Anitha
MBBS, MD, DM (Endocrinology)

Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) occurs due to insulin resistance and progressive loss of pancreatic beta-cell insulin secretory function.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which liver, muscle, and fat cells in the body do not use insulin effectively, i.e., there is resistance to the hormone insulin action.

Initially, your pancreas makes more insulin to overcome insulin resistance. Over time, the pancreas gets exhausted and can’t make enough insulin, and eventually, your blood glucose levels will rise.

risk factors of type 2 diabetes

There are various causes of type 2 diabetes, out of which genetic and environmental factors are the most important factors.

  1. Environmental factors such as being overweight, obesity, physical inactivity contribute to type 2 diabetes as they are associated with insulin resistance.
  2. Genetically T2DM consists of monogenic and polygenic forms. These genes increase the risk of developing diabetes mellitus in an individual.

Other factors that increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes are:

  • Weight: Being overweight or obese (BMI > 25 kg/m2) is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
  • Physical inactivity: The lesser active you are, the higher is the risk of diabetes.
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes: Chances of developing type 2 diabetes is 5-10 times higher if your parents or siblings (first – degree relatives) had diabetes.
  • Race/ethnicity: Certain races are at high risk of developing diabetes. The risk is high if you are an African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander.
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus: If you have a history of gestational diabetes in pregnancy, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is high.
  • High blood pressure: People with BP ≥ 140/90 mmHg or/ on treatment for High blood pressure.
  • Low HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride level: If your HDL cholesterol < 35 mg/dl and/or triglyceride level > 250 mg/dl then you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome/ Disease (PCOS/ PCOD): Women with PCOS are at increased risk of diabetes
  • Prediabetes: It is a condition where the blood glucose levels are not enough to be diagnosed as diabetes but are higher than normal.
  • Clinical conditions associated with insulin resistance: Severe obesity, acanthosis nigricans (areas of darkly pigmented skin around neck, armpits etc.) History of Heart disease increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Age: With increasing age, especially after age 45, the risk of diabetes increases.
  • Gender: Type 2 diabetes is more common in women.