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Finding out if you're at risk of Type 2 diabetes

You may have just found out that you’re at risk of Type 2 diabetes after using our Know Your Risk tool, or after seeing your GP or nurse for a blood test or an NHS Health Check.

Or you may just think you’re at risk because you have some of the risk factors, but you’re not too sure.

This can all be pretty confusing, so we’re here to explain what it all means.

Using our Know Your Risk tool

If you don’t know your level yet, find it out using our Know Your Risk tool. This is an important first step – it’s good to understand your risk, so you can make changes to reduce it.

There are four different levels of being at risk of Type 2 diabetes. These are:

  • low
  • increased
  • moderate
  • high.

The higher the risk level, the more likely it is that you’ll develop Type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years. Understanding all the things that could increase your level of risk can help you prevent or delay it – these are called risk factors.

So let’s explain what each level of risk means.

Low risk

One out of 20 people with low risk will get Type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years.

If your score is low, it means you have a low risk of getting diabetes. This is great, but keep an eye on any changes that could increase your risk in future.

Increased risk

One out of 10 people with increased risk will get Type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years.

If you’re at increased risk, look at where you’re scoring points. Could you reduce your weight or waist size? Making a change now could make a big difference to your health in the future.

Moderate risk

One out of seven people with moderate risk will get Type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years.

If you have a moderate risk, you need to visit your GP as soon as possible – you may need a blood test to check for diabetes. You need to talk about your risk with your doctor and plan what action you’re going to take. You can’t change some things, but reducing your weight or waist size could reduce your risk.

High risk

One out of three people with high risk will get Type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years.

If you have a high risk, it’s important to take action now to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. You could have Type 2 diabetes without knowing it, so it’s essential that you make an appointment with your GP to have a blood test.

Type 2 diabetes is serious. If you don’t get diabetes treated, you could go blind, lose a limb, cause your kidneys to fail or trigger a heart attack or stroke.

Getting a blood test

You may have already had a blood test or you may be due to have one soon. There are different types of blood tests. But they all do the same thing – they help your GP find out your blood sugar levels.

Prepare for your appointment so you make the most of it. Have a think about any questions you may have or about anything that’s worrying you. It’s worth noting things down to help you remember things on the day.

It can take up to a week to get your blood test results.

Your blood test results

Ask your doctor to explain your results to you. The results can show one of three things:

  • you have Type 2 diabetes
  • your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, sometimes called prediabetes
  • your blood sugar levels are normal.

If you have Type 2 diabetes

If your blood tests show you have Type 2 diabetes, your GP may do another blood test to confirm. If you are diagnosed, this will probably be a bit of shock and you might feel overwhelmed.

But it’s good that you know, so that you can take steps to look after your health and prevent some of the devastating complications of diabetes. Your doctor will give you a treatment plan and review you regularly.

We have lots of information about Type 2 to help support you, and remember you can give our Helpline a call to talk it all through if you need to.

If your blood sugar levels are higher than normal

This means that you’re at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.

Doctors sometimes use lots of other different terms to explain having higher than normal blood sugar levels, including:

  • prediabetes
  • borderline diabetes
  • non-diabetic hyperglycemia
  • Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG)
  • Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)
  • Impaired Glucose Regulation (IGR).

They all mean the same thing. You don’t have Type 2 diabetes at the moment, but you do need to act now to try and avoid it. Your doctor can offer you support to help you reduce your risk, and may refer you to a diabetes prevention programme.

You should have a blood test at least once a year, to keep checking your blood sugar levels. You’ll also have the chance to discuss how you’re getting on with any changes you’ve been making.

If your blood test results are normal

This doesn’t mean you’re not at risk – you may still have some of the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. It’s important to check your risk at a later date, especially if something changes that could increase your risk. Your doctor may also ask you to come back for another blood test in the future.

Getting an NHS Health Check

If you're aged between 40 and 74 and living in England, you may be able to get a free NHS Health Check.

An NHS Health Check can tell you if you're at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, as well as other health problems. It can also spot early signs of these conditions. You'll be given advice about how to lower your risk.

This service isn't available in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Ask your GP for more information on this and what your results mean.

What to do next

Whatever your level of risk or whatever your test results say, the good news is – you can reduce your risk. You can do this by:

If you take action now, you could delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes. Speak to your doctor and get their advice.

We can support you every step of the way – whether that’s through the information we provide, or by calling our Helpline and speaking to one of our trained counsellors. We’re here to help.

Keep checking your risk

It’s important to keep checking your risk regularly, especially if anything changes, like if you’ve put on weight.

You can check your risk again by using the Know Your Risk tool or by going to your GP. And look out for any of the symptoms of diabetes too.

If you’re not sure how often to check your risk of Type 2 diabetes, ask your doctor.

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