Some things that increase your risk of diabetes you can’t change. These are known as ‘non-modifiable’ risk factors and include:
- ethnicity – African-Caribbean or South Asian people from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, living in the UK, are at least fives times more likely to have diabetes than the white population
- having type 2 diabetes in your family – the closer the relative, say a parent, brother or sister, the greater the risk
- age – your risk increases with age
- having diabetes while you are pregnant
But others, known as ‘modifiable risk factors’ you can do something about and so lower your risk. These include:
- being overweight – around 80% people diagnosed with diabetes are overweight
- having an ‘apple-shaped’ physique - this means having excess weight around your waist.
As a guide:
- for women, the risk increases if your waist is 31.5 inches (80cm) or more
- for men the risk increases if your waist is 37 inches (94cm)
- for men of South Asian or African-Caribbean origin it increases if your waist is 35 inches (90cm).
- having heart or circulatory problems – you increase your risk if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or have had a heart attack or stroke.
Can you reduce your risk?
If any of these risk factors apply to you – particularly your ethnicity or family history of diabetes - you should make an appointment with your GP to discuss your overall risk and if necessary have a diabetes test.
Once you know the outcome, you and your GP can discuss and agree an action plan.