Risk factors for diabetes

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDMarch 8th, 2022
Woman in scrubs kneeling next to elderly patient sitting on couch

Brad Yamamoto

The fourth Tuesday in March is recognized as Diabetes Alert Day, and this year it falls on March 22nd. This day is observed to focus on the seriousness of type 2 diabetes, as this condition affects around 34.2 million Americans. While steps can be taken to manage diabetes and its accompanying symptoms, there is currently no cure. Because of this, it’s crucial that you understand the risk factors and learn how to minimize your chances of developing this chronic condition.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Before outlining the risk factors for diabetes, it can be helpful to better understand what this condition is. Normally, the pancreas creates a hormone called insulin that controls the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and/or cells in the body respond poorly to insulin and take in less sugar. This results in too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream, also potentially leading to disorders of the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the risk factors related to diabetes so you can prevent this chronic condition from developing.

Being overweight

If you are overweight or obese you may develop insulin resistance, which is when your cells have trouble absorbing glucose. Additionally, where you carry excess weight on your body matters. Extra fat in the abdomen or belly area is linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Increased age

Older adults are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes—specifically people older than 45 years of age. This is because the pancreas’s hormone release function can become impaired as you get older.

Family history

If someone in your family such as a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes, this can increase your own chances of having the condition. Researchers have found there is a strong genetic link to type 2 diabetes.

Having prediabetes or gestational diabetes

Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. If left unaddressed or untreated, it can progress to type 2 diabetes. Additionally, your risk of diabetes increases if you developed gestational diabetes while pregnant. This type of diabetes develops during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.

Diagnosis and treatment

If any of these risk factors apply to you and you notice signs or symptoms of type 2 diabetes, you should see a doctor to receive a diagnosis. Even without symptoms, people over 45 and adults who are overweight should receive testing every three years. Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed using a blood test called a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you can manage the condition through a healthy diet and regular exercise as well as medication and insulin therapy.

DispatchHealth offers in-home treatment

If you need help managing symptoms of your type 2 diabetes, DispatchHealth is here to offer in-home healthcare services. We can come to you for treatment of symptoms such as fatigue or dehydration due to frequent urination. Contact DispatchHealth today to learn more about our in-home services and the conditions that we treat.

For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/community-health-outreach/diabetes-alert-day
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193
  3. https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/insulin-other-injectables/insulin-basics
  4. https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/guide/risk-factors/
  5. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/diabetes/who-should-be-tested-diabetes-how-diabetes-diagnosed

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