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Diabetes risk factors

About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. It can come on slowly, usually over the age of 40. The signs may not be obvious, or there may be no signs at all, therefore it might be up to 10 years before you learn you have it.

That’s why it’s very important to know the risk factors and find out your risk, because then you can do something about it. 

You'll need an accurate height, weight and waist measurement to find out your risk. See below for tips on how to measure your waist.

Your risk increases with age.You’re more at risk if you’re white and over 40 or over 25 if you’re African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian.

You’re two to six times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes.

You’re more at risk if you’ve ever had high blood pressure.

You’re more at risk of Type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight, especially if you’re large around the middle.

Type 2 diabetes is 2 to 4 times more likely in people of South Asian descent and African-Carribean or Black African descent.

You're also more at risk if:

  • you’ve ever had a heart attack or a stroke
  • you have schizophrenia, bipolar illness or depression, or if you are receiving treatment with antipsychotic medication
  • you’re a woman who’s had polycystic ovaries, gestational diabetes, or a baby weighing over 10 pounds.

You can find out your risk of Type 2 diabetes online now. It only takes a few minutes. It could be the most important thing you do today.

Before you use the tool to find out your risk, you need to take a few measurements: your waist size, your height and your weight.



Measure your waist size

Your waist size is not necessarily your trouser size. To get an accurate waist measurement, find the bottom of your ribcage and the top of your hip bone. Measure around your middle at a point midway between these (for most people this will be the tummy button).

Watch our video for tips on how to get an accurate waist measurement.

Did you know?

Your waist measurement can put you at risk even if you have a healthy BMI, so make sure you keep an eye on this.

You have a higher risk if your waist measurement is 

  • more than 80cm/31.5 inches in women
  • more than 94 cm/37 inches in men
  • more than 90cm/35 inches in South Asian men