While discussing the birth weight of babies with a few elderly women, one lady was bragging that her mother had 8 babies and each entered this life at least 10 pounds with a brother over 13 pounds. If a mother has elevated blood glucose levels during pregnancy she delivers a large birth weight baby if not monitored and controlled. Decades ago gestational diabetes wasn’t considered.

Gestational diabetes not only puts the mother at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes within the following 5 to 10 years but the baby is high risk also. As the child develops into adulthood the risk of uncontrolled elevated blood sugars and complications becomes a threat.

Then the topic turned to diabetes. All of this woman’s siblings have dealt with diabetes. She proudly stated that she does not. She is the thin one in the family.

While 90 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, being thin doesn’t erase the risk. It is real, especially for those big birth weight babies as they grow older.

Genetics plays a role in developing Type 2 diabetes. Those who have a parent or sibling with this disease have more than a three times higher risk of future uncontrolled blood sugars than someone without the family history. Having any excess weight around the stomach increases the possibility.

Family history may explain why some people who are thin develop Type 2 while an obese person without the diabetes gene might not. This is why diabetes occurs more often in certain ethnic groups, such as, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and especially Native Americans.

Other factors that increase the diabetes risk for thin people include having high triglycerides and high blood pressure. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle puts a person in danger of diabetes no matter the weight. Smoking also puts a person at direct risk for uncontrolled blood sugars, regardless of weight.

Even if a person does not need to lose weight eating a healthy meal plan can lower the risk of diabetes even if the genetics are strong. A diet that is low in saturated fat and high in whole grains and vegetables is recommended. Limiting simple sugars and saturated fats can keep diabetes at bay.

Control maximum sitting time to two hours daily. Get more exercise and be more active. A sedentary body invites blood glucose abnormalities. Build up to 30 minutes daily at least five days a week. Steal 5 minutes of active movement in the morning, then 10 minutes later on, then 10 more after lunch and end the day with 5 more minutes of moving actively before bed.

The pressure of the blood running through the body affects the risk of developing diabetes. Eat fewer salty foods; exercise more; learn to control stress, fear and anxiety; relax more; and limit alcohol consumption. In short, control blood pressure.

Even a thin person can be at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Dealing with gestational diabetes, a large birth weight or a family history of the disease increases the risk, especially with age.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].

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