Are you at risk of type 2 diabetes?

This information is brought to you by Diabetes Victoria

Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the beta cells in the pancreas still make insulin, but it may not make enough, or the insulin that is being made does not do its job properly. 

As a result, the gates of the cells cannot open to let the glucose in. This is called insulin resistance. If glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the blood stream and causes blood glucose levels to rise. This is called diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and affects 85 to 90 per cent of all people with diabetes. It usually develops in adults over the age of 45, but is becoming more common in younger people too.

Who is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?

While there is no single cause for type 2 diabetes, there are well-known risk factors. Those most at risk of developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • People with pre-diabetes
  • People aged 45 and over who are obese or overweight, have high blood pressure or have a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes
  • People aged 55 or over
  • People with cardiovascular disease such as heart attack, angina, stroke, narrowed blood vessels
  • Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) who are overweight
  • Women who have had gestational diabetes
  • People with a first degree relative with type 2 diabetes
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 35 and over
  • People aged 35 and over who are Pacific Islanders, Maori, Asian (including the Indian subcontinent, or of Chinese origin) Middle Eastern, North African or Southern European
  • People taking certain antipsychotic medicine or corticosteroid medicine

Your lifestyle can also contribute to your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some common lifestyle risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese, especially around the waist
  • Low levels of physical activity, including more than two hours of television watching per day
  • Unhealthy eating habits, such as regularly choosing high fat, high sugar, high salt or low fibre foods
  • Cigarette smoking

Reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes

It is important that diabetes is diagnosed and treated early. Those at high risk for type 2 diabetes should have a blood test each year.

Exercising regularly, reducing fat and calorie intake and losing a little weight can help you reduce your risk. Your lifestyle choices can help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Evidence from large research projects in the United States, Finland, Europe and Australia have shown that adopting a healthy lifestyle is effective for preventing type 2 diabetes.

It is important for everyone to be active every day and eat well, not just those aiming to prevent diabetes.

Check your risk

Many people don’t know they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Assess your risk using the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment tool. You may also be eligible for the Life! Program, a free Victorian lifestyle modification program that helps you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Learn about healthy food choices

Check out our healthy eating tips for people living with Type 2 diabetes, as well those at risk of developing diabetes.

Reading food labels and making healthy food choices can also be difficult. Diabetes Victoria offers Healthy Supermarket Tours to help you learn about reading food labels and make better food choices.