National Diabetes Month
Type 2 Diabetes Risk by Age

An estimated 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes and the vast majority (90-95%) have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t respond normally to insulin. Over time, insulin resistance causes your body to require even more insulin, resulting in high blood sugar. 

While adults over 45 are at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes, it can occur at any age because genetics along with unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices play a large role in developing type 2 diabetes. This National Diabetes Month, we’re breaking down the risks of type 2 diabetes by age group and what you can do to prevent it. 

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

The risk of type 2 diabetes is a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. You are at a higher risk if: 

  • A parent or sibling has diabetes
  • You are overweight
  • You are over the age of 45
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • History of prediabetes
  • African Americans and Latinos are at a higher risk

Risk by Age

Children and Teens

While more common in adults, cases of type 2 diabetes in children and teens are on the rise. Most children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have a family member who has it, but there are also risks due to lifestyle and diet to consider. Early intervention and lifestyle changes can potentially reverse type 2 diabetes in children and teens.

Young Adults

Young adults experience many life changes – like living and eating on their own for the first time – that provide unique challenges and risks of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s important for this age group to establish and maintain a good diet and consistent exercise habits through these lifestyle changes.

Middle-Aged Adults

In adults 35-45, the risk of a new onset type 2 diabetes diagnosis increases because unhealthy eating and activity habits are usually established. At this age, weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and lack of exercise can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Older Adults

Adults over age 65 have unique considerations when it comes to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and are more likely to experience insulin resistance and production later in life. Risks that increase with age, such as limited mobility, cognitive issues, and other autoimmune diseases, present additional challenges for this age group.

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

At any age, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Develop healthy eating habits
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Incorporate exercise into your routine
  • Quit smoking
  • Control blood pressure

At Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology, our team of board certified endocrinologists, certified diabetes educators, and health coaches help diabetics take control of their health. We offer a personalized approach and a full range of diabetes services including NextStepMD weight loss program, medications, clinical trials, continuous glucose monitoring, and insulin pumps. 

To schedule an appointment in Central Austin, South Austin or Round Rock, call 512-458-8400 or request an appointment online.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check back with us each month as we provide you helpful wellness and health information.

Type 1 diabetes patient
9-year-old Georgetown boy participates in clinical trial to help find Type 1 Diabetes cure
Type 1 diabetes patient

Nine-year-old Paxton was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was just five years old. He showed the classic symptoms: extreme thirst, frequent urination, unintentional weight loss, and behavioral changes.  Both of his parents have health education backgrounds, so they immediately feared it was Type 1 diabetes. A trip to the pediatrician confirmed it. 

Type 1 diabetes is very different from Type 2 diabetes. Children who have Type 1 diabetes can’t produce the important hormone, insulin. Type 2 diabetes is typically a result of lifestyle factors, such as being inactive and carrying excess weight. 

Type 1 diabetes has a significant impact on Paxton and his family. He must check his blood sugar levels multiple times a day and must calculate how much insulin he needs. He (& his family) don’t sleep through the night because every morning at about 2am, his mom or dad checks his blood sugar levels because they typically plummet at that time. If it gets too low, Paxton could die. He is currently home-schooled because he was missing important class time due to treating blood sugar highs and lows in the nurse’s office. 

For these reasons, he’s participating in a new clinical trial at Texas Diabetes looking at special sensors and insulin pumps that make automatic adjustments to help people like Paxton stay in a more normal, healthy blood glucose range.  

“Ultra-rapid insulins being approved in pumps, including pumps with the automated features “closed loop pumps, is extremely exciting when it comes to treating patients with Type 1 diabetes”, says board certified endocrinologist, Dr. Lindsay Harrison and one of the investigators in the study.

Paxton must go to Texas Diabetes every two weeks and then eventually, it will be monthly for a total of four months. When he’s not there, he downloads his pump data and researchers access it in a cloud to watch his blood glucose levels. He must also log his food, exercise activity, and ketone levels.

This is Paxton’s third time participating in a clinical trial at Texas Diabetes. “I want to help out so other people can benefit from new technologies for Type 1,” explains Paxton. Paxton likes to explain to people exactly what Type 1 diabetes is, what the signs and symptoms are, and how it impacts his life.  He’s even recorded videos about it to share on social media.

Paxton still tries his best to live like a normal nine-year-old kid by playing with his friends and staying active through taekwondo.  

Clinical Trials at Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology

Texas Diabetes is one of the top endocrine research sites trusted worldwide in conducting investigational studies for the development of new medications and devices to help treat and prevent a wide range of endocrine diseases.

For more information on clinical research at Texas Diabetes, contact our research department here.

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Best Foods for Lowering Risk of Diabetes

Your nutrition has a big role when it comes to your health. For example, did you know that there are some foods that can help you lower your risk of diabetes?

Board certified endocrinologist Dr. Keta Pandit recently discussed important information everyone should know when it comes to your nutrition and lowering your diabetes risk. Here’s what she had to say:

What are the best foods for keeping diabetes risk down?

Diet is one of the most important parts of maintaining your blood sugar levels, which helps to lower your diabetes risk. There are plenty of foods, like those with added sugars and carbs, that can contribute to fluctuating blood sugar levels, but fortunately, there are others that can optimize your overall health including:

  • Beans – While they do contain carbohydrates, keeping them to the serving size can provide protein and fiber.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, collards, kale) – These are packed with Vitamins A, C, E, K and they’re powerhouse foods that are low in calories and carbohydrates. They can be consumed in salads, soups or stews.
  • Fruits – Stick to a serving size. Eat berries in the summer and citrus fruits in the winter. They are packed with vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, and they can satisfy one’s sweet tooth.
  • Nuts and nut butter – They have healthy fats, fiber and good omega – 3 fatty acids.
  • Whole grains – These are rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron, folate, magnesium, B vitamins. Examples include: whole oats, quinoa, whole grain barley, and farro.
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Avocado
  • Seafood, like salmon

What foods are unexpectedly high in sugar?

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are 150 calories per day for men (37.5 g or 9 teaspoons) and 100 calories per day (25 g or 6 teaspoons) for women. Our standard American diet is, unfortunately, filled with foods with hidden sugars. Some of the worst culprits that so many of my patients are unaware of include bread, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, pasta sauces, and condiments such as ketchup. Other common items in our diet also include granola bars, sweetened yogurt, instant oatmeal, breakfast cereals, energy drinks, and packaged fruit. In addition, all beverages with added sugars, such as juice, regular soda, regular sports or energy drinks, or coffee with added sugar should be avoided. Sweets such as ice cream, candy, and baked goods should certainly not become a part of a daily diet, as each serving contains high amounts of added sugar.

Regular consumption of foods with high amounts of added sugar intake, over time, can cause huge blood sugar spikes, which can lead to prediabetes and progress to diabetes.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check back with us each month as we provide you helpful wellness and health information.

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