Research shows that there is a genetic link to diabetes through family history. If someone in your family has diabetes, then your susceptibility to the disease increases. The closer the link, the higher the risk - for example, your risk is highest if a brother or sister is diagnosed with diabetes. The next highest risk is if one of your parents has the disease, followed by one of your grandparents, and so on.
However, in the case of type 2 diabetes, lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and body weight are also significant factors... and these are things you can change.
Families tend to eat together and often enjoy the same types of foods. Long-term, continued consumption of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates is a contributor to the development of type 2 diabetes. A diet high in these types of foods can easily lead to weight gain, particularly if exercise is not a regular part of your daily routine. Being overweight or obese can cause your body to become more resistant to the effects of insulin, putting you at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
If your family regularly eats starchy, refined, and sugary foods, and you have other risk factors for type 2 diabetes, you should gradually alter your diet. Choose fresh, healthy, whole foods over processed foods as often as possible. Include a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, and try to minimize consumption of sweets and refined carbs or packaged foods. It may also be worthwhile to engage the services of a dietitian can help you with proper meal planning and nutrition. Some insurance companies will even help to cover the costs of these consultations.
If you have risk factors for developing diabetes, or if you're showing signs of diabetes, make sure you are regularly screened for the disease. Your healthcare provider can take a family and personal history, assess your risk factors, discuss symptoms, and order tests. Remember that while susceptibility to diabetes can be inherited, it is only one factor. There are things you can do to delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. A family history of diabetes does not automatically mean you're going to get it too!