Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes


Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes? Knowing whether you’re at risk can help you take steps to prevent or delay the disease.

Your chances of developing type 2 diabetes depend on a combination of factors, including your genes and lifestyle. You can’t change some risk factors, such as your family history, age, or ethnic background. But you can change risk factors related to your lifestyle, such as your eating and physical activity habits, and your weight.

Do you have any of these common risk factors?

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you:

  • are overweight or have obesity
  • are age 45 or older
  • have a family history of diabetes
  • are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander American
  • have high blood pressure
  • have a low level of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, or a high level of triglycerides, a type of fat found in your blood
  • have a history of gestational diabetes, or diabetes that develops only during pregnancy
  • are not physically active

Overweight and obesity

Overweight and obesity are key risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. To see if your weight puts you at risk, find your height in the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart below. BMI is a measure that shows if you’re overweight or obese based on your body weight and height. If your weight is equal to or more than the weight listed, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

What can you do to help prevent type 2 diabetes?

If you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, you can take steps to help prevent or delay the disease by

  • losing weight if you’re overweight
  • eating fewer calories and focusing on healthy foods such as whole grains, lean meats, and fruits and vegetables
  • getting active if you’re inactive, or increasing the amount of physical activity you do
  • talking with your doctor about any of the health problems listed above that may need treatment to manage them
  • asking your doctor about any medicines you take that might increase your risk, such as steroids

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health has information about diabetes and related health conditions at www.niddk.nih.gov. You also can follow the NIDDK on Facebook at Facebook.com/NIDDKgov and on Twitter at twitter.com/NIDDKgov.