Type 2 diabetes risk factors The exact genetic causes of type 2 diabetes are not currently known however, there is a range of factors that increase the risk of developing the condition. Some diabetes risk factors can be managed or reduced (known as modifiable lifestyle factors), while other factors cannot be changed. Risk factors that cannot be changed include: age (people over 40 have a higher risk and the risk increases with age) family history of diabetes Ethnicity and cultural background (including people from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background) history of gestational diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome Risk factors that can be managed or reduced (modifiable lifestyle factors) include: carrying excess weight (especially if this weight if around your middle) being physically inactive unhealthy eating habits smoking high blood pressure high levels of cholesterol or other fats in the blood Reducing your risk There are a number of risk factors that can be managed or reduced (modifiable lifestyle factors) to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight Being overweight, especially around your waistline, increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and losing weight is one way you can help prevent type 2 diabetes. Carrying extra weight around your middle means fat can build up around organs and cause insulin resistance, which means the insulin your body produces doesn’t work properly. A small weight loss (5-10% of body weight) can make a big difference and for those with pre-diabetes can prevent type 2 diabetes in up to nearly 6 out of 10 people. Measuring your waist is a quick and simple way of checking your risk. Measure halfway between the top of your hip bone and your lowest rib, roughly in line with your belly button. In general, if you are of Caucasian origin: Women should aim for a waist circumference less than 80 cm Men should aim for less than 94 cm There are no quick fixes when it comes to reducing your waist size but small changes in your diet (such as reducing your portion size) and regular physical activity are important factors in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Advice from a dietitian, exercise specialist or other health care professionals can make losing weight much easier and sustainable. Making healthy food choices Eating a healthy, balanced diet is way great way to manage your weight and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. As a starting point, we recommend people follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines Healthy Eating for Adults and Healthy Eating for Children. Regular physical activity to reduce diabetes risk factors Regular physical activity is key to preventing type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity helps to: maintain a healthy weight lower your blood pressure reduce your risk of heart disease reduce stress. The Australian Government’s physical activity and exercise guidelines for all Australians recommend adults should be active most days, preferably every day. Moving for at least 30 minutes a day makes a big difference to your health and wellbeing. It also helps lift your mood. You can break up exercise throughout the day if needed. You don’t need to go to the gym or run a marathon, aim for moderate intensity. It could be a brisk walk around your suburb, playing a sport in the garden, or doing an online exercise class.