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Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, estimated to account for around 90% of all diabetes cases. It develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, leading to high blood glucose, also called blood sugar.
Being overweight is believed to be the primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Your chances of developing type 2 diabetes are also high if you are age 45 or older, have prediabetes, or certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, or Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Diabetes is also believed to have a strong genetic link, meaning that it tends to run in families.
Some research suggests that having a parent with type 2 diabetes increases your risk of developing the disease by as much as fourfold. The risk goes up to about 50% if both parents have it. So, if you have a parent or sibling affected with the disease, doctors recommend routine testing starting at age 45.
However, having parents or other family members with diabetes does not guarantee that you'll develop it too. A combination of many other factors that you can control can increase your risk of developing the disease.
While you can't do much about inherited abnormal genes, there is a lot you can do to reduce your chances of developing diabetes. Studies have shown that it is possible to delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes by losing weight if you are overweight, eating fewer calories, and being more physically active.
A genetic mutation may make you susceptible to Type 2 diabetes, but certain lifestyle choices can greatly influence how well your body uses insulin. These include:
Physical inactivity can cause muscle cells to lose their sensitivity to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels, thus increasing diabetes risk. Regular exercise benefits people with diabetes as well as those at risk for diabetes by helping manage weight, improving blood sugar levels, boosting the body's sensitivity to insulin, and improving heart health.
A diet high in fat, calories, and cholesterol increases the likelihood of type 2 diabetes. A poor diet can lead to obesity the single most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes and other health problems. A healthy diet high in fibre and low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar can help you manage your blood sugar levels and weight.
Research suggests that obese people (those having a BMI of 30 or greater) are up to 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with a BMI of less than 22. People with excess abdominal fat are much more prone to developing Type 2 diabetes. This is because abdominal fat cells can release inflammatory chemicals that reduce the body's ability to incorporate and utilize insulin. If you're overweight, losing weight can help improve your body's ability to effectively respond to insulin and reduce your chances of developing diabetes.
Unhealthy habits, such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol, can contribute to the conditions that cause type 2 diabetes. Quitting these bad habits is better for everyone, whether they have diabetes risk or not.
Note: If you have a family member with Type 2 diabetes, it's a good idea to regularly check your blood glucose, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
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