The same factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increase the risk of developing prediabetes, including:

  • Extra weight. Being overweight is a primary risk factor for prediabetes. The more fatty tissue you have — especially inside and between the muscle and skin around your abdomen — the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
  • Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk of prediabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Advancing age. The risk of prediabetes increases as you get older, especially after age 45. This may be because people tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as they age. However, older people aren't the only ones at risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The incidence of these disorders is also rising in younger age groups.
  • Family history. The risk of prediabetes increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
  • Race. Although it's unclear why, people of certain races — including African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders — are more likely to develop prediabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of later developing diabetes increases. If you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms), you're also at increased risk of diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome — a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity — increases the risk of diabetes.
  • Sleep. Several recent studies have linked a lack of sleep or too much sleep to an increased risk of insulin resistance. Research suggests that regularly sleeping fewer than six hours or more than nine hours a night might up your risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Other conditions associated with diabetes include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Low levels of HDL, or the "good" cholesterol
  • High levels of triglycerides — a type of fat in your blood

When these conditions — high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal blood fats and cholesterol — occur together along with obesity, they are associated with resistance to insulin. This is often referred to as metabolic syndrome.

Jan. 26, 2012

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