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What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

If you or a loved one has type 2 diabetes, you may be wondering why the disease has seemingly occurred suddenly. You probably have heard all sorts of explanations about the causes of this condition. Let's examine some of these risk factors that can have a profound impact on your health.

Genetics: Everyone is born with a certain set of genes that define many of their physical characteristics, from hair and eye color to their risk for certain diseases. Some people have a genetic predisposition, or family tendency, to developing type 2 diabetes.

Race: People of certain races, including Malays and Indians, have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the National Health Survey 2004, the prevalence of diabetes amongst Malays is 11%, Indians strong>15% and Chinese 7%.

Age: While everyone, including children, is at risk for type 2 diabetes, the risk increases significantly in people older than age 40.

These factors cannot be changed. Why do we say, then, that you can influence them favorably with appropriate lifestyle choices? We know from extensive research that even people with the highest genetic, racial, and age-related risks can greatly reduce the chance of developing the disease by maintaining a recommended body weight, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet.

Excess weight: Weighing more than recommended is one of the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes. While losing weight is a tough proposition for most people, it is one of the most powerful actions you can take to reduce your chance of getting type 2 diabetes. Click here for our article on Weight Loss and Diabetes.

Minimal physical activity: The human body is designed to move, to be active every day. Physical activity helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and also helps people with the disease control their blood sugar levels. People who stay active and keep their muscles working are more likely to have cells that allow the insulin "key" to unlock the "door" permitting the glucose to enter.

Risk Factors You Cannot Change

  1. Genetics
  2. Race
  3. Increasing age

Risk Factors You Can Change

  1. Excess weight
  2. Low physical activity
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