Who Is at Risk for Diabetes? You are here: Home - Who Is at Risk for Diabetes?

There are over 25 million children and adults in the United States with diabetes—and more than 25% of them (7 million people) don’t even know they have it.1 Knowing the risk factors for type 2 diabetes is important, because the earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the sooner steps can be taken toward managing the disease and perhaps preventing complications.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include2:

  • overweight (BMI ? 25 kg/m2) or obese (BMI ? 30 kg/m2) (to find out your body mass index, or BMI, use the calculator to the right)
  • family history of diabetes (first-degree relative, ie, mother, father, sister, brother)
  • race/ethnicity other than white, such as African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • had diabetes during a pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • gave birth to a large baby (more than 9 pounds)
  • physical inactivity
  • high blood pressure (?140/90 mm Hg)
  • low HDL cholesterol (<35 mg/dL) and/or high triglyceride levels (>250 mg/dL)
  • women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • diagnosed with pre-diabetes
  • have had heart problems

Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m2 or higher and any of the above risk factors should be tested for diabetes. Otherwise, testing should begin at age 45.2

Can the onset of type 2 diabetes be delayed?

The answer is YES! Research studies have found that lifestyle changes can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes among individuals at high risk (those with pre-diabetes). They may even be able to return their blood sugar (glucose) levels to the normal range.

Lifestyle modifications included weight loss of 7% of body weight, as well as increasing physical activity to 150 minutes per week of moderate activity such as walking. In the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large prevention study of people at high risk for diabetes, the development of diabetes was reduced 58% over 3 years.2 While the DPP also showed that a medication called metformin may delay the development of diabetes, diet and exercise worked better.