Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as a lifestyle disease. While there is a genetic link to developing diabetes, lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and weight are great contributors to whether or not you're at risk for the disease.
Being overweight or obese is a strong risk. Excess weight can lead to further insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to additional weight gain. Over time, pre-diabetes may develop. Without intervention, this can further lead to type 2 diabetes.
This video gives a good overview of type 2 diabetes and some of the risk factors. Awareness of the disease can help to highlight any risk factors, and provide the best chance to possibly prevent or reverse the progression of diabetes.
A blood test can determine whether or not you are pre-diabetic. A fasting blood glucose level (measured after you have fasted for at least 8 hours prior to the blood being drawn) between 70 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dl) and 100 mg/dl is considered normal. A blood glucose range of 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl is considered pre-diabetic, and 126 mg/dl or higher is considered diabetic [to get these values in mmol/L, see conversion chart for blood sugar levels]. The test is repeated for a result of pre-diabetes or diabetes, in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Type 2 diabetes develops slowly. Often, people have normal blood glucose levels for years before being diagnosed as diabetic. Making positive lifestyle changes now may help you to avoid the disease altogether.
If you are overweight, losing weight is one of the best ways to lower your risk of diabetes. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly are both key to lowering your risk. A poor diet high in sugary sweets, and refined and processed foods, contributes to the risk of diabetes, as does a sedentary lifestyle. Eating well and exercising not only makes you healthier, it also helps you lose weight. A combination of all of these lifestyle changes gives the best opportunity to delay, or even prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
Normally there are no symptoms of pre-diabetes. However, you should familiarize yourself with the early warning signs of diabetes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you believe you are at risk, visit your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns.