Are You at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

Dec 10, 2018


You Will Learn  

  • Common terminology terms like glucose, insulin, and hemoglobin A1c.
  • How high your blood sugar has to be before you are considered diabetic.
  • The major risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
  • A quick and easy test to see if you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.  


“The persistence of an epidemic of obesity and Type II Diabetes suggests that new nutritional strategies are needed if this epidemic is to be overcome,” put differently, doing the same thing over and over again a.k.a. starving ourselves either whether that’s by not eating or by exercising obsessively hasn’t worked, it will continue to not work. We need a new nutritional strategy”. 

– Dr. Westman, Duke University  


Diabetes Lingo 101  

To be sure we are on the same page when you read this article, below are definitions of terms commonly used when talking about diabetes.  


Glucose is also known as sugar and is our body’s main source of energy—like gasoline is to a car. Glucose comes from the food we eat.  


Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas. It works like a key to unlock your cells and allow glucose into the cell. Without insulin, the sugar just stays in your blood.  

Glucose and insulin have a direct correlation. The higher your blood sugar, the more insulin your body will need to move that sugar out of your blood and into your cells.  

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)  

This test measures how much sugar is left in your blood after not eating for 8 hours. It indicates how well your insulin is working to move glucose from your bloodstream into your tissues to use as energy.  

Hemoglobin A1C  

Also known just as A1c, this test measures your average blood sugar over the last 3 months. The general goal for patients with diabetes is to maintain an A1c less than 7%.  

If one wants to prevent or reverse diabetes, a better A1c goal is less than 5.7%. Below is a table that relates A1c readings to average blood glucose levels.1  

A1c........Blood Glucose  









Insulin Resistance  

Insulin resistance occurs after years of high blood sugar and thus high insulin levels. Your muscle and liver cells become desensitized to such high amounts of insulin and become unable to use it effectively to allow glucose to get into your cells. Your pancreas then has to work in overdrive to produce more and more insulin.  

After a while your pancreas won’t be able to keep up and medications will be prescribed to help the glucose get into your cells.  

Left untreated, people with insulin resistance will have high blood sugar which can have detrimental effects on every system in your body.  


How is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?  

Type 2 Diabetes is usually diagnosed with one of the following 2 tests:

1. Hemoglobin A1C Level  

Less than 5.7% ---> Normal  

5.7% to 6.4% ---> Prediabetes  

6.5% and higher ---> Diabetes  

2. Fasting Plasma Glucose Level  

Less than 100 mg/dl ---> Normal  

100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl ---> Prediabetes  

126 mg/dl and higher for two separate tests ---> Diabetes  


What are the Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes?  

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you:  

  • Are overweight, having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater2
  • Are age 45 or older
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a low level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, or a high level of triglycerides
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighting 9 pounds or more
  • Are not physically active
  • Have a history of heart disease or stroke
  • Have depression
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Although you can’t change risk factors such as family history, age, or ethnicity, you can change lifestyle risk factors around eating, physical activity, and weight.  


Take the Test!  

The Centers for Disease Control has developed an easy-to-use, free test. In just a few clicks you can see if you are at risk for prediabetes. Click HERE to take this test. 

The American Diabetes Association put together a similar test to see if you are at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Click HERE to take that test.

Bottom Line  

Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes can be confusing and overwhelming. If you have been recently diagnosed and your doctor prescribed you medication to lower your blood sugar without first addressing modifiable risk factors listed above, see if your doctor would be willing to hold off on the medication until you try changing your diet and exercise first.  


Action Items  

  • Click on the links above to see if you are at risk for developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. 
  • Check your last blood draw results in comparison to the A1C and fasting blood sugar levels. Are your numbers the in prediabetes or diabetes ranges?
  • If you are at risk for, or already have diabetes there is a lot that can be done to lower your blood sugar without medication.
  • If you live in the Omaha, NE and surrounding area, and want to learn more about how we can help you reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, click HERE to schedule your free 30 minute phone call with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy. 


Coming Up Next...  

Up next is an article that describes seven things you can do to your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Check it out HERE.  



1. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care.2018 Jan;41(Supplement 1): S55-S64.

2. American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes-2015 abridged for primary care providers. Clin Diabetes. 2015;33(2):97-111.

3. Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. Jan 2015, 38 (Supplement 1) S8-S16; DOI: 10.2337/dc15-S005.

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