How Do You Get Diabetes?
No one knows why people develop diabetes, but once diagnosed, the disease is present for life. It is a hereditary disorder, and certain genetic indicators are known to increase the risk of developing diabetes. Type 1, previously known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile-onset diabetes, afflicts five to ten percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes. This type occurs most frequently in children and adolescents, and is caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce the insulin needed for survival. Type 2, previously called noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes, affects the other 90-95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, many of whom use oral medication or injectable insulin to control the disease. The vast majority of those people (80 percent or more) are overweight; many of them obese, as obesity itself can cause insulin resistance.
Certain Characteristics Put People at a Higher Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes
• A family history of the disease
• Prior history of developing diabetes while pregnant
• Being over the age of 40
• Being a member of one of the following ethnic groups: African American, Native
American, Latino American, Asian American, Pacific Islander
African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes than the general population, with 25 percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 diagnosed with the disease. Hispanic Americans are almost twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes, which affects 10.6 percent of that population group. Native Americans are at a significantly increased risk for developing diabetes, and 12.2 percent of the population suffers from the disease. In some tribes, as many as 50 percent of its members have diabetes
Of all the risk factors, weight is the most important, with more than 80 percent
of diabetes sufferers classified as overweight.