Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes develops when your body's cells are unable to take in and process the insulin your pancreas produces. You develop what is called "insulin resistance."  In some cases, your body may not be able to produce enough insulin to get the needed glucose into your cells.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

  • Medical ConditionsPeople who have the following medical conditions are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes:
  • Unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension). People who have consistent readings of 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. Women with this disorder have problems that may include infertility, lack of menstrual periods, obesity and insulin resistance.
  • HeredityGenetics plays a major role in type 2 diabetes. Having a parent or sibling with diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors. However, you must also have environmental risk factors. People who have strong family histories without environmental factors may not develop the disease.
  • EnvironmentSome of the environmental triggers for type 2 diabetes include:
Obesity. High-fat, high-calorie diets and little exercise contribute to obesity, one of the strongest triggers for developing type 2 diabetes. About 80 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight. The risk of diabetes due to obesity increases among children and people who have been overweight for a long period of time. High-fat, low-fiber diet. People in the U.S. and Europe who eat a Westernized diet that is high in fat and low in fiber often develop type 2 diabetes.
Little or no exercise. People who spend more time sitting than moving and who get little exercise are more apt to develop type 2 diabetes.


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Written by award-winning health writer Bobbie Hasselbring

Reviewed by Beth Seltzer, MD

Last updated June 2008