How Do You Get Diabetes? A Comprehensive Guide to the Causes and Risk Factors

How Do You Get Diabetes? A Comprehensive Guide to the Causes and Risk Factors

Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood, known as hyperglycemia. This can be due to the body’s inability to produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar), or its inability to use insulin effectively, or both.

There are mainly two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2, each having different causes and risk factors. This article explores how one can develop diabetes, diving into the causes and risk factors associated with each type.

1. Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, previously referred to as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune condition. In this condition, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, known as beta cells.

1. Causes

The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is still unknown however, it’s believed to be a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Some researchers suggest that certain viruses may trigger the disease, but more research is needed to substantiate this theory.

2. Risk Factors

Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Genetics: Certain genes indicate an increased risk of Type 1 diabetes.
  • Age: Although Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it’s more common in children and adolescents.

2. Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, lifestyle factors play a significant role in the development of Type 2 diabetes.

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1. Causes

While the exact mechanism that triggers insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetes isn’t completely understood, several factors contribute to its development, including:

  • Being overweight or obese: Carrying excess weight, especially in the abdomen, has been linked with insulin resistance.
  • Poor diet: Consuming a diet rich in processed foods, red meats, and sugary drinks contributes to obesity and diabetes.

2. Risk Factors

  • Family History: Similar to Type 1 diabetes, having a family member with Type 2 diabetes increases your risk.
  • Age: The risk of Type 2 diabetes increases with age, particularly after 45 however, due to the rise in childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in younger populations.
  • Race or Ethnicity: People of certain races and ethnicities, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

3. Other Types of Diabetes

In addition to Type 1 and Type 2, there are other less common types of diabetes, including gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy and typically resolves after childbirth, and LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults), which has features of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.


Diabetes develops as a result of complex interactions between genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. While some factors such as family history and age are out of our control, many lifestyle-related risk factors can be managed. Adopting a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

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If you’re concerned about your risk of diabetes, it’s important to discuss this with your healthcare provider. Regular check-ups can help identify potential issues early, allowing for preventive measures or early treatment.

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