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Do these pre-diabetes risk factors describe you?

Think of pre-diabetes as a big red flag, waving in the wind, warning you that diabetes is just around the corner. In 2011, about 79 million people had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, according to numbers from the American Diabetes Association.

That's a disturbingly high number of people who are at risk for diabetes. But the good news is that lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, can help stave off the advance of diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with the condition, knowing your pre-diabetes risk factors can go a long way toward helping you reverse the march of diabetes into your life.

8 Pre-diabetes risk factors

If you have any of these risk factors, take steps now to avoid diabetes in your future.

  1. Are you overweight? Carrying too much weight, especially around your abdomen, can speed up a diabetes diagnosis. Losing weight can help you battle pre-diabetes.
  2. Do you have a sedentary lifestyle? If you've been a couch potato the last few years, it's time to get up and move. The more exercise you get, the more weight you lose, and the more sensitive your cells become to insulin.
  3. What's your family history? If someone in your immediate family tree, such as a sibling or parent, has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your odds of developing the disease are much greater.
  4. How's your heart? Factors that can affect your heart can also affect your odds of developing diabetes. If you have high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides or low levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol), your chances of developing pre-diabetes goes up.
  5. How old are you? If you are over the age of 45, you could be at risk for pre-diabetes. However, that's not a fool-proof number; more younger people are developing pre-diabetes, too.
  6. How are you sleeping? Studies have shown that getting less than six hours of sleep per night can increase your risk for developing pre-diabetes, but there's the flip-side: Getting more than nine hours of sleep can also put you at higher risk. Try to sleep between seven and eight hours per night.
  7. Have you ever had gestational diabetes? If you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant, your chances of developing the disease in later years is increased.
  8. What's your race? Though scientists aren't sure why, certain races tend to develop diabetes more often than others. These include African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Hispanics.

These are the basic risk factors, but there are others. If you have had polycystic ovary syndrome, given birth to a child who weighed over nine pounds or have ever been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, your chances of developing pre-diabetes are greater.

If any of these risk factors describe you, a visit to your doctor is in order. Mention that you are concerned about pre-diabetes and ask for advice on how to combat the disease. Lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and more exercise, are the first line of defense against pre-diabetes. Your doctor might have other suggestions that can help keep you in good health.

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About Shannon Lee

Shannon Dauphin began writing about diabetes long before she was diagnosed in 1998. A professional writer with nearly two decades of experience, Shannon has covered topics from medical and health to relationships and is the author of several published novels.

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