Causes Of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is likely caused by a complex interaction of predisposing genetic factors and environmental influences.

Genetic Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

Many people with type 2 diabetes have a family member with either type 2 diabetes or medical problems associated with diabetes, such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, or obesity.

The lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes is five to ten times higher in first-degree relatives (sister, brother, son, daughter) of a person with diabetes compared to a person with no family history of diabetes.

Certain ethnic groups are at much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These include people of Hispanic, African, and Asian descent.

Environmental conditions:

Environmental factors such as what you eat, how much weight you gain, and how active you are have a strong influence on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The recent rise in type 2 diabetes cases is commonly attributed to the obesity epidemic plaguing much of the world. But only 20-25 percent of obese people develop type 2 diabetes.

Although obesity and weight gain are sometimes a cause of type 2 diabetes, there are other environmental conditions that may trigger the disease, like certain foods, pollution or lack of exercise.  


About 3 to 5 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes.  This type of diabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes, but generally resolves after a woman delivers her baby. Women who have gestational diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Read more about type 2 diabetes:

Reviewed by Dr. Mariela Glandt, Dec. 2013

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