Diabetes Risk Factors

90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. The signs may not be obvious, or there may be no signs at all. Some people can live with it for might be up to 10 years before being diagnosed. That’s why it’s very important to know the diabetes risk factors.

You can find out your risk of type 2 diabetes now. It only takes a few minutes. It could be the most important thing you do today.

Whether you have any other risk factors or not, if you’re over 40 your risk of type 2 diabetes and other conditions is higher.

risk factors

  • Your risk increases with age. You’re more at risk if you’re white and over 40 or over 25 if you’re African-Caribbean;
  • You’re two to six times more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes;
  • You’re more at risk if you’ve ever had high blood pressure;
  • You’re more at risk of type 2 diabetes if you’re living with obesity or overweight;
  • Type 2 diabetes is slightly more common in men than in women;
  • Smoking is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and also increases the risk of other health conditions such as heart disease and cancer;
  • Alcohol – Drinking too much alcohol is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Current guidelines recommend not regularly drinking more than 14 units per week and that these units should be spread evenly over 3-4 days;
  • Sleep – If you have disturbed sleep this can be associated with an increased the risk of type 2 diabetes;


  • Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects pregnant women, usually during the second or third trimester;
  • Heart attack or stroke – Having a heart attack can cause damage that may increase risk of type 2 diabetes;
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Women who have PCOS are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance and therefore higher levels of insulin circulating in the blood;
  • Mental health conditions – If you are receiving treatment with antipsychotic medication this can also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, but the risk is quite low. It is important that you continue to take any prescribed medication as it will help to manage your condition;
  • Sedentary lifestyle – If you spend long periods of time sitting,(this does not include sleeping) this is known as a ‘sedentary’ lifestyle. Being sedentary is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

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