Who is vulnerable to Type 2 Diabetes?


Type 2 diabetes used to be known as maturity onset, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. It develops mainly in people over 40. However, it is now becoming more common in children and in young people.

The number of people with Type 2 diabetes is increasing in the UK, as it is more common in people who are overweight or obese. It also tends to run in families. It is around five times more common in South Asian and African-Caribbean people (often developing before the age of 40 in this group)

It is estimated that there are around 750,000 people in the UK with Type 2 diabetes who have not yet been diagnosed with the condition.

Other risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Having a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes. (A first degree relative is a parent, brother, sister, or child)
  • Being overweight or obese, in particular, if you’re an 'apple shape' with lots of fat around your abdomen
  • Having a waist measuring more than 31.5 inches (80 cm) if you are a woman or more than 37 inches (94 cm) if you are a man.
  • Having impaired glucose tolerance. (Impaired glucose tolerance is when the blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes)
  • Having had diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance when pregnant.
  • Have high blood pressure or have had a heart attack or stroke.
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Are a woman and have polycystic ovary syndrome and are overweight
  • Have elevated cholesterol (combined hyperlipidemia)
  • Other causes include acromegaly, Cushing's syndrome, chronic pancreatitis and cancer


Unlike Type 1 diabetes, there is very little tendency toward ketoacidosis. Long-term complications from high blood sugar can include increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, amputation, diabetic retinopathy where eye sight is affected and kidney failure. In some cases, circulation of limbs is affected, potentially requiring amputation. Loss of hearing, eyesight, and cognitive ability has also been linked to this condition.

Several studies have shown that lifestyle factors are important in the development of type 2 diabetes. In one study from the USA, people who had exercised regularly, maintained a healthy diet, didn't smoke, and consumed alcohol in moderation had an 82% lower rate of diabetes. If the results included normal weight, the rate was 89% lower. In this study, a healthy diet was defined as one high in fibre and with a high polyunsaturated to saturated fat ratio. In other studies obesity has been found to contribute to approximately 55% of cases of type 2 diabetes.