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Obesity Isn't Sole Cause of Type 2 Diabetes

An estimated 29 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. An estimated 86 million adults have prediabetes. So why do so many people develop diabetes?

For a long time, health professionals believed that obesity was the major risk factor linked to obesity. However, new research suggests obesity is just one of several factors that can increase the risk for developing this disease that can lead to poor circulation, kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health problems.

In addition to obesity, diabetes may also be linked to genetic factors, a hormone imbalance, and lifestyle habits that interfere with your body's internal clock.

Genetic Factors

In one recent study, Harvard University researchers wanted to find out why some obese people don't develop diabetes. They already knew of four rare genetic mutations that increased the risk for diabetes, but they wanted to find out if there were others. To do this, they looked at the genes of 20,000 people with diabetes, and they found 49 new genetic mutations that raise the risk for developing diabetes. In other words, if you have a family history of diabetes, there's a good chance it's in your genes. And you should do everything you can to prevent it.

Hormone Imbalance

In another study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers took a closer look at a hormone called amylin used to help convert blood sugar into energy. They found that in some cases, toxic clumps of amylin develop around the pancreas that limit insulin production. Without enough insulin to regular blood sugar levels, the body will eventually develop diabetes.

Your Body's Internal Clock

Many researchers have long believed that certain lifestyle factors may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. And a new study published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice confirms this. Researchers found that lifestyle factors and behaviors that interfere with the body's natural internal clock, may increase the risk for diabetes. Things like working graveyard or swing shifts, poor sleep habits, or late-night eating may disrupt normal sleep patterns and elevate the risk for diabetes.

If you have diabetes or want to prevent it, follow your doctor's advice, eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and get your blood glucose level tested periodically.