If you have ever wondered if you might be at risk for type 2 diabetes, you are not alone. With the increase in diabetes in Canada over the years, this is 'top of mind' for many people. And if you are over 40 years of age, you should have already been tested for diabetes.
What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?
There are a number of things that put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. Some of these can be modified by making lifestyle changes. For example, being overweight is a risk factor that can be removed. Other risk factors like family history can’t be eliminated, but healthy lifestyle practices can help reduce some of the risk.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Being 40 years of age or older
- Having a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Being a member of a high-risk ethnic population. For example, being of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent
- Being overweight, especially around the abdomen
- Having a history of gestational diabetes
- Being diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes complications like eye, kidney or nerve problems or heart disease
- Physical inactivity
- Having high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
If you have any of these risk factors, you should be checked for diabetes. Talk to your healthcare provider. You may be given one of three different tests to check your blood glucose (sugar) level:
- Fasting blood glucose (FPG) – this is a test that requires you to fast for at least 8 hours. However you may drink water.
- Casual blood glucose – this test doesn’t require fasting.
- Oral glucose tolerance test – this test requires you to take a special sweetened drink two hours prior to the blood test.
Having risk factors for diabetes does not mean that you will inevitably end up with the condition, but does indicate that your chances are greater than those of the general population.
Remember the good news: you can take steps to manage your blood glucose to help delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. Blood glucose levels can often be reduced through basic lifestyle changes such as following a healthy eating plan and starting a program of regular physical activity. Read our expert blogger’s article Eating to prevent diabetes.
You can check your risk right now with the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire – CANRISK.