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Health Issues of black people 2: diabetes and factors that increase the risk of developing it

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is the most common and is often linked to being overweight. That means there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it.

 

Are you at risk of type 2 diabetes? Find out by using the NHS Choices’ interactive diabetes risk tool

 

Type 1 diabetes is not linked to being overweight. The cells that produce insulin in the body are damaged for reasons that aren't fully understood. There are no lifestyle changes that can lower your risk of type 1 diabetes.

 

However, around 90% of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2. If you maintain a healthy weight, you can reduce your risk of developing the condition.

 

Your weight

 

If you are overweight, you’re at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

 

You can find out if you're a healthy weight by calculating your body mass index (BMI) using the NHS Choices’ Healthy weight calculator. 

 

BMI isn't the only important measurement. Your waist measurement may also indicate that you're carrying extra body fat and therefore at risk.

 

• For all women, a waist measurement of more than 80cm (31.5 inches) indicates an increased risk.

 

• For white or black men, a waist measurement of more than 94cm (37 inches) indicates an increased risk.

 

• For Asian men, a waist measurement of more than 90cm (35 inches) indicates an increased risk.

 

• If you lose excess weight, you’ll lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.

A healthy diet and physical activity are the key to a healthy weight, but that doesn't have to mean going on a strict diet and spending hours at the gym.

 

Other Factors

 

A number of other factors can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, most of which are things that we can't control.

 

The risk factors include:

 

• Being over 40 or over 25 if you're black or Asian.

 

• Having a close family member (parent, brother or sister) who has type 2 diabetes.

 

• Being south Asian or African-Caribbean. These ethnic groups are five times more likely to get type 2 diabetes.

 

• Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), especially if you're also overweight.

 

• Having had gestational diabetes (diabetes that lasts for the duration of a pregnancy).

 

• Having impaired fasting glycaemia or impaired glucose tolerance.

 

If any of these risk factors apply to you, you should maintain a healthy weight to ensure that your risk of diabetes doesn't increase further.

 

Reference

NHS Choices, Reduce your diabetes risk,

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Diabetes/Pages/Avoiddiabetes.aspx

Accessed: 17/02/2012

 

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