What is Diabetes? Risk Factors and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes

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What is Diabetes: Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

Sensing the rise and absorption of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. The insulin works with glucose in the bloodstream to provide food to the brain and fuel to cells and other organs. If the body does not respond to the insulin it makes, known as insulin resistance, or if the pancreas does not make enough, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, thus, forcing the pancreas to increase insulin productivity. Eventually, the pancreas wears out, not being able to compensate for the proper amount of insulin the body so requires.

Insulin resistance can create diabetes symptoms and increased blood sugar levels, as well as prediabetes–or pre diabetes–and type 2 diabetes. At this time, there is no diabetes cure; however, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease, diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy and other health problems. Therefore, diabetics must take care of their diabetes through a carbohydrate-balanced diabetic diet, exercise and other diabetes treatment, such as medication and/or insulin injections.

Risk Factors and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes: Risk Factors

Certain individuals are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Known risk factors and health conditions contributing to the development of diabetes include the following:

  • Genetics;
  • Overweight;
  • Obesity;
  • Lack of exercise;
  • Ethnicity;
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS);
  • Insulin resistance;
  • Low individual birth weight;
  • Metabolic syndrome;
  • Endothelial dysfunction;
  • Retinal artery narrowing;
  • Smoking;
  • C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker;
  • Impaired fasting glucose or high blood sugar readings;
  • History of gestational diabetes;
  • High LDL cholesterol level;
  • Acanthosis nigricans on the areas of the neck or armpits; and/or
  • Older than 45 years of age.[1,2]

As noted above, various ethnicities are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, including those with a Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, African American, and Hispanic/Latino background.

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Personal prevention can aid in delaying the onset of this disease, even lowering an individual’s risk. While there is no absolute guarantee that a person can prevent the development of this disease, particularly those with a strong family history, there is no need to sit back and allow it, and other associated health complications, to set in without a fight. It is important to note that with personal prevention, some individuals have actually been able to prevent diabetes altogether.

All at-risk persons have the opportunity to take a proactive approach to their health by following the tips below:

  • Exercise daily.
  • Lose weight.
  • Monitor carbohydrates.
  • Limit sugar and fat intake.
  • Increase healthy proteins into a diabetic diet, including skinless chicken breast and nuts.
  • Eat whole wheat products and fresh produce.
  • Avoid eating three large meals per day; instead, eat six small meals.
  • Incorporate an antidiabetic medication into a healthy lifestyle.


The preceding article is to be used for educational purposes only. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment is not advised. Individuals should be evaluated by a licensed health care provider for proper diagnosis, prevention and treatment options.


MedicineNet. “Diabetes Prevention”, https://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_prevention/page2.htm.[1]

National Diabetes Education Program. “Diabetes Risk Factors”, https://www.ndep.nih.gov/am-i-at-risk/DiabetesRiskFactors.aspx.[2]

Personal Resources

American Diabetes Association, https://www.diabetes.org/.

National Diabetes Education Program, https://www.ndep.nih.gov/index.aspx.