Consider this your wake-up call! Every year, the American Diabetes Association hosts Alert! Day as an opportunity to raise awareness among the public about understanding and lowering their risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Why should I worry about my risk?

Diabetes is a serious disease; an estimated 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Of those with the disease, nearly 7 million of them don’t even know they have it. Diabetes contributes to numerous other health complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and even death. Additionally, in some 79 million individuals, the level of blood glucose is higher than normal -- this form of pre-diabetes especially increases the chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes later on.

With adequate information and lifestyle changes, early intervention is possible. In support of Alert! Day, here's a short list of factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes that you should know about:

  1. Age – As you get older, your risk for type 2 diabetes goes up.
  2. Gender – Men have a higher risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
  3. Family History – If your mother, father, sister, or brother has diabetes, you have a higher risk.
  4. Race – African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans all have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
  5. High Blood Pressure – A diagnosis of high blood pressure also increases your chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
  6. Physical Activity – Lack of exercise increases your risk.
  7. Weight – Being overweight raises your risk for type 2 diabetes.

What do I do next?

If you do find yourself at high risk from some of these factors, talk to your health care provider to see if there are additional tests you should take. There are some factors affecting your risk that you can’t change, such as age, race, or family history. A good way to reduce risk overall however is to live an active and healthy lifestyle: maintain a good body weight, monitor your eating habits, and remember to keep up your physical activity! For more resources on lowering risk and information on diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association's website.

We encourage you to share this information with everyone you know – your friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues. Together, we can all lower our risk and help prevent diabetes!