Many Americans are unaware of the risk factors for diabetes. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nearly 30% of diabetics are undiagnosed. When you don’t treat it, diabetes leads to serious health problems like cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, vision problems, skin conditions, and hearing impairment.

However, the good news is that type 2 diabetes, which makes up about 95% of all diabetes cases, is both preventable and treatable.

Risk Factors for Diabetes

There are several risk factors for type 2 diabetes that increase your chances of developing the disease. These include:

  • Being over age 45
  • A family history of diabetes
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides
  • Having hypothyroidism

People of certain races are also at higher risk. Native Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans all have a higher risk than the rest of the population.

Diabetes Risk Test

By looking at seven specific type 2 diabetes risk factors, you can get a good idea of whether you have a high risk of developing the disease.

Read through the following questions and keep track of your score based on your answers.

Are you overweight?
Score 1 if you’re less than 20 pounds overweight, 2 if you’re 20 to 50 pounds overweight, or 3 if you’re more than 50 pounds overweight.

Are you male or female?
Score 1 for male, 0 for female.

If you’re a woman, have you ever had gestational diabetes?
Score 1 for yes, 0 for no.

Does anyone in your immediate family have diabetes?
Score 1 for yes, 0 for no.

Have you ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure?
Score 1 for yes, 0 for no.

Are you physically active?
Score 0 for yes, 1 for no.

How old are you?
Under 40 – score 0
40-49 – score 1
50-59 – score 2
Over 60  – score 3

How did you score? If you got a total of 5 or higher, you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Talk with your doctor to see if you should take further tests.

How to Prevent Diabetes

You can significantly reduce your risk of diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices. All of the following suggestions will help lessen your risk:

Eat healthy.

Eat more foods high in fiber and low in refined carbohydrates and sugar. Make whole grains, fruits, and vegetables a regular part of your diet.

Get regular exercise.

Exercise naturally lowers your blood sugar and helps the body efficiently use glucose. Light to moderate daily exercises like walking or biking makes a big difference.

Lose excess weight.

Being overweight, especially if you carry extra weight around the belly, is one of the primary risk factors for diabetes. Shedding excess pounds lowers your risk significantly.

Maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

High blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase the risk for diabetes. By working to keep them under control, you’ll also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Treat hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism can lead to insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. Check your thyroid levels if you believe you may be at risk, and use hormone replacement therapy to maintain optimal levels.

As common as diabetes is among Americans, it is also one of the most preventable and treatable diseases. By making healthy choices a habit, you can lower your risk factors for diabetes considerably. If you already have diabetes or prediabetes, following these healthy lifestyle recommendations will ease your symptoms. 

To check your thyroid levels, schedule an appointment at Hotze Health & Wellness Center today.