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Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

Updated: Mar 25

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, everywhere. The numbers are frightening and, perhaps worst of all, the condition is primarily lifestyle related. In Singapore 1 in 3 people are at risk of developing diabetes.

For most people the key factor involved is being overweight. Poor diet, lack of exercise, work-life balance, the pressures of modern life… the reasons are complex. According to the US’ Centers of Disease Control the key risk factors involved are:

  • "Have prediabetes.

  • Are overweight.

  • Are 45 years or older.

  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.

  • Are physically active less than 3 times a week.

  • Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds. (4kg)

  • If you have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease you may also be at risk for type 2 diabetes.”

The Singapore health authorities also include 3 additional factors:

  • “High blood pressure. High blood pressure of greater than 140/90 millilitres mercury (mmHg) is is recognised as a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher. Triglyceride is another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high triglyceride levels are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You can discuss with your doctor about checking your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a condition associated with irregular menstrual periods, excessive hair growth and being overweight.”


Body Mass Index (BMI) is a useful tool to assess risk of chronic illness, including type 2 diabetes. The original BMI research (and calculations) was based on white populations, although the cutoff figures for being 'overweight' or 'obese' (and the risk of chronic illnesses) differs between different ethnicities.

South Asian and Asian populations have a lower BMI threshold for being overweight or obese than Caucasian and Black populations. Many online BMI calculators do not factor this into their results.

The UK's National Health Service BMI calculator takes ethnicity into account. As does, for Asian populations, the Singapore health authority calculator.


So, what are the symptoms of diabetes, or its initial stage pre-diabetes? Common issues include the following although some could easily be mistaken for day-to-day issues:

  • Increased thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Increased hungerFatigue

  • Blurred vision

  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands

  • Frequent infections

  • Slow-healing sores

Fortunately, there are online risk assessments as well as a simple tests at the doctor’s office that can screen for diabetes such as the fasting blood glucose test or The HbA1c test. This test measures average blood sugar levels over the last two to three months.


If you want to take your own steps to live a diabetes free and healthy life, leading a healthy lifestyle should be the priority. Manage your weight, prioritise a healthy diet, exercise regularly – these are all important. For some it might be necessary to address work-life balance, sleep and even one’s social life before diet and exercise can become a reality. We are here to help.

Stay Healthy,



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Related Studies

Bellou V, Belbasis L, Tzoulaki I, Evangelou E. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes mellitus: An exposure-wide umbrella review of meta-analyses. PLoS One. 2018 Mar 20;13(3):e0194127. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194127. PMID: 29558518; PMCID: PMC5860745.

Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G, Lampousi AM, Knüppel S, Iqbal K, Schwedhelm C, Bechthold A, Schlesinger S, Boeing H. Food groups and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur J Epidemiol. 2017 May;32(5):363-375. doi: 10.1007/s10654-017-0246-y. Epub 2017 Apr 10. PMID: 28397016; PMCID: PMC5506108.

Yang Z, Scott CA, Mao C, Tang J, Farmer AJ. Resistance exercise versus aerobic exercise for type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2014 Apr;44(4):487-99. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0128-8. PMID: 24297743.



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