Diabetes Risk & Prevention

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While type 2 diabetes is more common in people aged 45 years and older, age isn't the only concern. Learn what to look for and steps you can take to lower your diabetes risk.

Are You at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

Several factors can increase your chance of getting type 2 diabetes:

  • Prediabetes — impaired glucose tolerance and impaired fasting glucose
  • Metabolic syndrome — a condition marked by elevated cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and central obesity (a high concentration of body fat around the upper body and abdomen)
  • Excess weight or obesity, especially central obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet — high intake of processed meats, fats, sweetened foods and beverages and calories
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • History of gestational diabetes or having a baby that weighs over nine pounds at birth
  • Endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism, acromegaly, polycystic ovary syndrome, pheochromocytoma or glucagonoma
  • Conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as acanthosis nigricans
  • Certain medications, such as glucocorticoids or thiazides
  • Certain ethnic groups, such as African American, Hispanic, Native American, Hispanic American, Asian American or Pacific Islander

Do You Have Diabetes Symptoms?

You may have diabetes for years before you have symptoms. Symptoms caused by high blood sugar or include:

  • Increased urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritability
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Poor wound healing
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Problems with gums
  • Itching
  • Problems having an erection

Steps to Take if You're a Diabetes Risk 

To reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Participate in regular physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Drink alcohol in moderation (two drinks per day for a man, and one drink per day for a woman)
  • Eat a well-balanced diet:
    • Get enough fiber
    • Avoid fatty foods
    • Limit sugar intake
    • Eat more green, leafy vegetables
    • Eat whole fruits, especially apples, grapes and blueberries

If you think you're at risk for diabetes, visit your primary care provider and get help with your nutrition.