Type 2 Diabetes: Causes and Risk Factors

The exact underlying cause of diabetes remains a mystery, though the question is the subject of extensive scientific study. What researchers do know is that both genetics (family history) and environment (such as excess weight and inactivity) appear to play significant roles.

The diabetes risk factors

The typical profile for a person with type 2 diabetes looks like this:

  • Age 45 or older
  • Overweight
  • Sedentary
  • Has a family history of the disease

People with these additional conditions are also at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease 
Most likely to get type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs more frequently in certain ethnic groups:

  • African Americans
  • Latin Americans
  • Asian and Pacific Island Americans
  • Native Americans

Sarah Henry

Sarah Henry has covered health stories for most of her more than two decades as a writer, from her ten-year stint at the award-winning Center for Investigative Reporting to her staff writer position with Hippocrates magazine to her most recent Web work for online sites, including WebMD, Babycenter. See full bio