Are You At Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes?

There are substantial opportunities for every individual to reduce their chances of developing diabetes. But not everyone needs to do more exercise or reduce their waistline. Some people have a greater absolute risk of diabetes, who stand to get the greatest absolute benefit from working hard to prevent it.

Diabetes usually occurs as a result of a combination of many risk factors. It is possible to estimate your own risk for having type 2 diabetes. One of the simplest is the AusDRISK calculator, which is currently used by the Commonwealth Department of Health. There is also an online version available at : http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/diabetesRiskAssessmentTool

This calculator takes a number of different factors into account including

  • Your age – Those over 45 are at increased risk of diabetes and approximately 25% of people over the age of 75 have diabetes. This can arise from reduced physical activity with aging, but it is also to do with inefficiency in the pancreas, as aging makes it harder for cells and organs to repair themselves.\
  • Your waistline – Those who are obese are four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with a healthy weight and the diabetes will appear 5 years earlier than average
  • Your level of physical activity – that those who did not exercise regularly may be at least twice as likely to develop diabetes in a five-year period, as compared to those who undertook more than 150 minutes of exercise per week. Not only does exercise assist in losing weight, or helping to maintain a healthy weight, it also improves insulin utilisation in the body, which means that the pancreas does not have to work as hard to control blood sugar levels.
  • Your family history – There are strong genetic influences in diabetes, and these genetic predispositions often run in families. For those who have a close relative that has diabetes, it is 5 to 6 times more likely that they will develop diabetes also. If more than one close family member has diabetes, the risk increases to as much as 15 times.
  • Your ethnicity – rates of type 2 diabetes are higher in African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and Indigenous Australians.
  • Whether you developed diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) – women who have suffered with gestational diabetes are four times more likely to develop diabetes in later life
  • Do you suffer with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)? – Over half of all of women that suffer with PCOS will have impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes) or diabetes before they reach the age of 40.

If this calculates that you are at increased risk of diabetes, then it is recommended that you go and get a blood test to see if you have diabetes or are close to getting it.

The people most likely to develop type 2 diabetes are those people with pre-diabetes. This means that their blood glucose levels are a little elevated, but not enough to be classified as having diabetes. It is a sign of declining insulin production capacity. Over a five-year window, those with pre-diabetes are over 15 times more likely to develop diabetes than are people with normal blood glucose levels. Again, such results can be used as a wake-up call, and with understanding and application, diabetes can still be prevented.

Last reviewed 26/Feb/2014

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Whilst wielding a couple of dumbbells in a gym class in 2003, Kate experienced an epiphany around the lack of accepted best practice guidelines when it came to staying well and avoiding disease. Kate realized that she had no chance of slowing her own aging process unless she became better educated about her options.
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