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Step 2: Who gets type 2 diabetes?
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Even if you know others who have diabetes, you may be surprised to learn just how common it is:

  • In the United States alone, about 24 million people have diabetes. More than 6 million of the people who have it (nearly one third!) don't yet know that they have it.
  • Between 90 - 95% of these people have type 2 diabetes.
  • When considering people of all ages, more than 1 in 15 people in the U.S. have diabetes. For those over age 20, the incidence falls to about 1 in 10; for those over age 60, it is more than 1 in 5. And diabetes continues to get more common in every age group.
  • Since 1988, the average age of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes has dropped from 52 years to 46 years. The disease is becoming alarmingly more common in children and young adults due to the increase in children and teenagers who are overweight.
  • Men and women have an equal chance of getting diabetes.
  • One in three children born in the year 2000 or later will develop diabetes.
  • One in two African-American children born in the year 2000 or later will develop diabetes.

Risk factors increase the likelihood that you will get diabetes. Some risk factors are under your control and some are not.

Here are risk factors that you CAN'T change:

  • Your age.
  • The genes that you inherited.
  • Your family history.
  • Gestational diabetes that you may have had in the past.
  • Your ethnicity. Some groups, including African-Americans and Hispanics, have higher rates of diabetes.

The good news, however, is that there are risk factors you CAN change. In fact, you may even be able to prevent type 2 diabetes altogether by doing the following:

  • Eat healthy amounts of healthy foods.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25.
  • Exercise and stay physically active.
  • Reduce body fat, especially around your waistline.
  • Increase your dietary fiber intake.

If you already have diabetes, these same steps can help you control it, as you will learn later in this guide.


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Review Date: 7/8/2012
Reviewed By: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (5/13/2010)
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