Type 2 diabetes impacts millions of Americans, but it can largely be avoided through proper diet and exercise

Did you also know an individual can have diabetes for years before it is diagnosed? People may go seven to 10 years before it is detected. By then, high blood glucose (sugar) levels may already have damaged the body. Without a diagnosis, serious health complications commonly associated with poorly controlled diabetes can develop: heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, amputations and more.


An additional 86 million American adults have prediabetes, which increases their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes your blood glucose is higher than normal, but not high enough (yet) to be called type 2.

Risk Factors

People who are overweight, under active (living a sedentary lifestyle) and over the age of 45 should consider themselves at risk for type 2 diabetes.

African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and people who have a family history of the disease also are at an increased risk for developing type 2.

Take the Diabetes Risk Test

Fortunately, type 2 diabetes can be delayed, or even prevented, through lifestyle changes such as modest weight loss, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and healthy eating. It all starts with knowing your risk.

The American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Risk Test asks simple questions about your weight, age, family history and other potential risk factors. In about one minute, you are given a numeric score representing your risk for developing type 2 diabetes — as well as steps you can take to lower your risk, if needed.

Risk Prevention

If you are overweight, studies have shown you can delay, or even prevent, type 2 diabetes if you lose just 7 percent of your body weight (so about 15 pounds if you weigh 200). You can accomplish this with healthful eating and regular physical activity, 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Type 2 diabetes can affect almost anyone, so it’s important to know the risk factors. By understanding your risk, you can take the necessary steps to help prevent the onset of type 2 and its complications.

The free Diabetes Risk Test is available in English and Spanish. Visit diabetes.org/risktest to take the test online or call 1.800.DIABETES (1.800.342.2383) for a paper copy.

David Marrero, Ph.D., is the J.O. Ritchey Endowed Professor of Medicine and Director, Diabetes Translational Research Center, at Indiana University School of Medicine. He is the American Diabetes Association’s President of Health Care & Education and was the recipient of the Association’s Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award and the Josiah K. Lilly Distinguished Service Award in 2008. He holds a PhD, Masters of Arts and Bachelors of Arts in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine.