Diabetes risk factors

There is nothing that you can do to prevent Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a little more complex – it’s a combination of our genes and our lifestyle. You can find out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by taking our online Diabetes Risk Score Test.

You are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if:

  • You are over 40 (or over 25 if you are South Asian)
  • You have a close family member with diabetes (parent, brother or sister)
  • You are overweight, with a large waist size (over 80cm (31.5 inches) for women, 94cm (37 inches) for men, or 89cm (35 inches) for South Asian men)
  • Being South Asian, Black African, African Caribbean – even if you were born in the UK
  • You have ever had high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke
  • You're a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome and overweight
  • If you're a woman and you've had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby over 10 pounds
  • If you have a severe mental illness for which you take medication (such as schizophrenia, bipolar illness or depression)
  • You've been told you have impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glycaemia.

Note: Some of these risks factors are genetic factors and there is little you can do to reduce them, so it’s best to concentrate on those you can change, such as your weight.


These things do not cause diabetes:

  • Viruses or germs – you cannot catch diabetes like a cold
  • Stress, though it may make the symptoms worse in people who already have the condition
  • An accident or an illness won’t cause diabetes, but may reveal the condition if it is already there.

What to do now?

You can find out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by taking our quick online Risk Score test.

Find out more about preventing Type 2 diabetes.