Environmental and Lifestyle Risk Factors for Diabetes

January 8, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

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Why any particular person gets diabetes isn’t completely known. Complicating the situation is the fact that there are different types of the disease, though Type 1 and Type 2 are the most common. Of those, Type 2 accounts for about 90% of cases.

Fortunately for those who are at risk, many factors are lifestyle choices and therefore can be altered. Even after contracting the disease, much of the management of the disease involves controllable issues.

Obesity is widely recognized as one of the leading risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. While there is a genetic influence – some shed or gain weight and body fat more easily than others – it is subject to influence by choices. A high BMI (Body Mass Index) is an adjustable number with the proper diet and exercise.

A BMI of higher than 27 correlates with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. The number should not be taken as a sole determinant, however, since its diagnostic value is less for those who are very muscular or are pregnant. But a high BMI is an indicator of obesity and should be checked.

Beyond simply being overweight, where the majority of excess body fat resides plays a role in the odds of contracting Type 2 diabetes. Those who tend to store body fat around the waist are at higher risk. While that in itself is largely a genetic issue – some individuals are naturally pear-shaped, others are not – the results can be influenced by diet and exercise.

Claims of supplements that target fat at the waistline are yet to be proven. Similarly, assertions that it’s possible to selectively remove waistline body fat through specific exercises are ill-founded. But an overall weight-reducing diet and general exercise program will help reduce large fat deposits, including those of the waistline.

More generally, a sedentary lifestyle increases the odds of contracting Type 2 diabetes. Partly that’s the result of adopting a mindset that brings with it a number of less than ideal choices. But in particular, the lack of exercise is a direct cause of higher body fat percentage as well as a number of follow on effects.

Exercise certainly burns calories. But even the resting state burns about 70 calories per hour just to power metabolic processes. But regular movement helps stimulate the lymph system, strengthen and loosen muscles, oxygenate tissues and brings with it many other positive benefits.

Exercise helps control blood pressure, a factor in contracting diabetes. It helps regulate glucose levels, which have a major role in the disease since excess glucose in the blood is a defining attribute of diabetes. It alters cholesterol levels, another risk factor for contracting the condition.

Though the risk of contracting diabetes is present for anyone, it’s good to know you can drive it to much lower odds by adopting healthy choices.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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