According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes affects more than 8 percent of the US population — that's 25.8 million people.
The more risk factors you have, the greater your odds of developing type 2 diabetes. Some of them are beyond your control — but there are a few things you can change.
Five Risk Factors You Can Control
1. Your weight. Being overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) over 25. Use the calculator at left to figure your BMI.
2. Sedentary lifestyle. You already knew this. Check with your doctor and then do some sort of exercise, even a brisk walk, at least three times a week. Get off the couch and get moving.
3. Abnormal cholesterol and blood fats. Check with your doctor to see if your HDL, or "good" cholesterol is lower than 35 mg/dL or if you have a triglyceride level over 250 mg/dL. There is a good explanation of triglycerides at WebMD. Simply put, they are fat in the blood and are used to provide energy to the body.
4. High blood pressure. Greater than 140 /90 in adults.
5. Smoking. Stop already.
It's even more important to get these risk factors under control, because some others are inevitable.
Risk Factors You Can't Control
1. Race or ethnicity. Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans, and Asians have a higher than average risk.
2. Family history of diabetes. Having a parent or sibling with diabetes boosts your risk.
3. Age. Being 45 and older increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
For more information on diabetes go to the National Institutes of Health Information Clearinghouse at http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/.