There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetics cannot produce any insulin and must take insulin into the body. Type 2 diabetics can produce some, but not enough insulin, and often need medication to control blood sugar levels. Common risk factors for diabetes include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pregnancy, body shape, weight, ethnicity, genetic disposition, lifestyle, and age.
Age is one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also called adult onset diabetes as this type often affects adults aged 45 and up. However, younger adults and children are also beginning to become susceptible to developing this type of diabetes.
A lack of exercise and a poor diet are considered risk factors for diabetes at all ages. Studies have shown that eating properly and exercising regularly can, in many cases, prevent the development of diabetes in those with pre-diabetes and/or genetic disposition to diabetes.
Genetic disposition is one of the risk factors for diabetes. There is a risk of developing either type 1 or type 2 diabetes if a blood relative has type 2 diabetes. Genetic risk factors for diabetes are especially strong if a close blood relative such as a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes. A person's ethnicity is another risk factor for diabetes. Those with African, Latin American, Aboriginal or Asian ancestry are thought to be among the ethnicities with the highest risk factors for diabetes.
Weight and body shape are risk factors for diabetes as well. Overweight persons have a higher risk for developing diabetes than those who achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Those with apple-shaped figures in which excess fat is in the abdominal area are thought to have a greater risk for developing diabetes than those with pear-shaped figures in which excess fat is on the hips.
Pregnancy is a risk factor for diabetes. Some women develop diabetes in pregnancy when their hormones have difficulty controlling their blood sugar. Usually, the blood sugar levels remain normal after the baby is born, but about 40% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Being pregnant with a larger sized baby makes a woman especially susceptible to gestational diabetes.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure have been shown to be strong risk factors for diabetes. Proper diet and exercise can help keep cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels which may help prevent diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics should take care to keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control along with their blood sugar levels.