Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Of the 34 million people with diabetes in the United States, at least 90 percent of them have type 2 diabetes. Many people develop this condition due to a complex mix of factors, including genetics and environmental factors.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, there’s not a single cause. In fact, it may be a combination of factors that lead to type 2 diabetes. Here’s a look at certain factors that are associated with type 2 diabetes.

Genetics and family history

Genetics seem to play a significant role in a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, the link between type 2 diabetes and family history is stronger than the link between type 1 diabetes and family history, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Insulin resistance

Normally, your body uses a hormone called insulin to help glucose in your bloodstream enter into your cells so it can be used for energy. But you can develop a condition called insulin resistance when the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to the action of the insulin. That makes it harder for the glucose, or sugar, to get into your cells.

As a result, you have too much sugar remaining in your bloodstream. Your pancreas works hard to compensate by producing more and more insulin, but it gets progressively harder to keep up, and your blood sugar levels remain elevated. This sets you up for developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Visceral fat

A certain type of fat, called visceral fat, can increase risk for type 2 diabetes.

You can’t see it, but its fat that surrounds your internal organs, like your liver and your intestines, deep inside your midsection. While visceral fat is only about 10 percent of total body fat, it has the highest associated risk for metabolic issues, such as insulin resistance.

In fact, research suggests that people with larger waistlines who may have more of this belly fat are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Sedentary lifestyle

Sitting for long periods of time can raise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It has been shown that regular physical activity can help you better keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Some medications

It’s possible that a medication you’re taking for another medical condition could predispose you to developing type 2 diabetes.

For example, corticosteroids like prednisone are often used to treat inflammation, but they’re also associated with a risk of developing diabetes, according to research. High doses of statins, which are used to treat high cholesterol, may also increase your risk.

Other drugs that have been associated with an increased risk for developing diabetes in some cases include:

Other drugs may also raise your blood sugar levels, so it may be worth having a conversation with a medical professional if you start taking a new medication, especially if you have other risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to note that medications should not be stopped without consulting a medical professional.

Certain medical conditions

If you have prediabetes, your blood sugar levels are elevated but not quite enough to qualify for a diabetes diagnosis. More than 84 million adults in the United States have prediabetes. You can take steps to get your blood sugar levels back into a healthy range, typically through eating nutrient-rich foods and exercise.

Other conditions that may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes include:

Some people mistakenly believe that just eating sugar will cause you to develop type 2 diabetes. However, that’s not true.

Per a 2015 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, research does show that drinking a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, but natural sugars, like those in fresh fruit, don’t seem to have the same effect, according to other research.

Whether someone will develop diabetes depends on many other factors, such as those mentioned above.

Eating a nutrient-dense diet and getting regular physical activity will improve your health on many fronts, including decreasing the likelihood that you’ll develop type 2 diabetes.

Certain factors increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Family. If you have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, your chance of developing the condition is greater.
  • Having overweight or obesity. Weight can be a risk factor. People who have overweight or obesity are at elevated risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Age. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, but people over age 45 are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Race/ethnicity. Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent in people who are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or Alaska Native, as well as for some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Per research, this increased prevalence is due to a combination of factors, including access to and inequities in healthcare.
  • History of gestational diabetes. People who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to go on and develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Research estimates that between 15 and 70 percent of people with gestational diabetes are more likely to eventually develop diabetes.
  • Lack of physical activity. If you live a very sedentary lifestyle, you may be raising your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Many factors can influence your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Some are factors that you can control, at least to some degree, but some are factors that are beyond your control.

If you believe you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, talk with a healthcare professional about ways you can help reduce your chances of developing the condition.