Certain factors can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (which is most common in older people). (Diabetes is not contagious – you cannot "catch it" from another person.

Main factors that contribute to diabetes


Over 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. The more overweight you are, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, the greater your risk of diabetes.

Exercise Levels

Physical inactivity has been shown to contribute to diabetes. The less exercise you do, the greater your chances of developing diabetes.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)

A healthy person's blood sugar is usually between 70 and 110 mg/dL (milligrams of glucose in 100 millilitres of blood) or, in millimols, between 3.9 and 6.0 mmol/L. Impaired glucose tolerance is a level of blood glucose which is higher than normal, but not high enough to be in the range where doctors classify this as diabetes.


African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Latinos are at higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

High Blood Pressure

A blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure and puts you at greater risk of developing diabetes.

High Cholesterol

A poor cholesterol profile increases risk of developing diabaetes. On average,  here are the numbers which are considered high cholesterol: HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) levels of 35 or lower and/or triglyceride levels of 250 or higher.


Approximately 18.4% of Americans over age 65 have type 2 diabetes.


Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "pre-diabetes"—blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Family History

Research has shown that people are more at risk if there is a history of diabetes in close family members. The closer the relative, the greater your risk of diabetes.

Previous Gestational Diabetes

Having a history of gestational diabetes, or having at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth, increased your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

The Future of Diabetes

Diabetes prevalence in the United States is likely to increase for several reasons. First, a large segment of the population is aging. Also, Hispanics/Latinos and other minority groups at increased risk make up the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. Finally, Americans are increasingly overweight and sedentary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the United States will increase 165 percent by 2050.

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