November is Diabetes Awareness Month: Is Type 2 Diabetes Genetic?

pexels photo 6823670.jpeg?cs=srgb&dl=pexels artem podrez 6823670

According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020, more than 34 million have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90–95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Usually, type 2 diabetes develops in adults over 45 years old, but it is becoming more common among young adults, teens, and children.

Even more concerning, according to a previous CDC study; As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the continued prevalence of diabetes, researchers ask the question, is Type 2 diabetes genetic? The short answer is Yes. However, the long answer, is a little more complicated. Considering November is Diabetes Awareness Month, let’s take a look at the genetic links to Type 2 diabetes.

An individual’s genetic predisposition to the condition does play a part in how quickly and easily it can run its course. Furthermore, the development of Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to family history than type 1. However, let’s not forget that environmental factors such as exercise, diet, and smoking status can influence whether gene express and diabetes develops.

Let’s take a look at what the most current research study is telling us concerning diabetes, genetics, and environmental factors.

ADA’s (American Diabetes Association) Stance on Genetics:

  • Type 2 diabetes has a stronger genetic link to family history than Type 1
  • Sets of twins have shown genetics play a key role in Type 2 Development
  • The ADA also indicates that race can influence Type 2 development
  • The ADA recognized environmental factors also paly a role
  • Obesity, commonly associated with diabetes can be both genetic and environmental


What are my chances of inheriting type 2 diabetes?:

  • A 2013 study showed:
  • If one parent has type 2 diabetes, you have a 40% lifetime risk development
  • If both parents have type 2 diabetes, you have a 70% lifetime risk of development
  • If a first degree relative has diabetes, you are  three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if a first-degree relative has the condition. A first-degree relative is someone with whom a person shares 50% of their genes, such as a parent or full sibling

Which specific genes have been shown to influence the development of Type 2 diabetes:

  • CAPN10: This gene encodes enzymes that degrade proteins. It was the first gene that scientists confirmed had a definitive link with type 2 diabetes.
  • TCF7L2: This protein-coding gene has the strongest links to type 2 diabetes across all racial groups.
  • ABCC8: This gene may impair the release of insulin.
  • GCGR: This gene is a glucagon receptor.
  • GCK: This is a gene for the enzyme glucokinase, which speeds up glucose metabolism and acts as a glucose sensor.
  • GLUT2: This gene encodes for a glucose transporter, which regulates the entry of glucose into pancreatic beta cells.
  • SLC2A2: This gene regulates the entry of glucose in pancreatic beta cells and triggers insulin secretion.
  • HNF4A: This regulates genes in the liver and pancreas.
  • HNF4A: This is the insulin hormone gene.
  • KCNJ11: This is the gene for the potassium channels that trigger the release of insulin.
  • LPL: This is the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which breaks down triglycerides (fats).
  • PPARG: This gene regulates fat cell differentiation.
  • PIK3R1: This gene has a role in insulin signaling.

The Genetic-Environment Interaction:

  • Studies show an individuals genes interact with their environment, the environment can activate, inactivate, or have no influence.
  • The CDC defines this interaction as Epigenetics 
  • It is important to understand that epigenetic changes do not change genes, but instead they affect how the body expresses the gene
    • It is also important to note that factors such as diet, exercise, and activity can influence epigenetics.

Intervention and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes: By now you know, behavioral, environmental, and genetics all paly a role, but how can you intervene or even prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes?

  • It starts with diet:
    • In 2013–2016, 89%Trusted Source of American adults whose doctors had recently diagnosed them with diabetes had overweight or obesity.
    • Further research as shown; a low-energy diet and physical activity led to significant weight loss and diabetes remission in over 60% of participants.
    • Individuals with obesity may delay or help prevent diabetes by losing 5–7% of their starting weight. Individuals could try eating smaller portions, choosing foods with less fat, and avoiding sweetened drinks.
  • After diet, comes lifestyle changes:
    • Individuals can reduce or avoid the following to lower overall lifetime risk of Type 2 diabetes development
      • Smoking
      • Inactivity
      • Alcohol Intake
      • Stress
      • Others
  • Genetic Screening: A genetic screen can determine specific genes that increase an individuals predisposition to diabetes.

In Conclusion:

Type 2 diabetes has a genetic link. Type 2 diabetes also has an environmental link. Examining all of your genetic and environmental factors, working with a doctor, and establishing a plan is the best course of action to access your type 2 risk.


Interested in genetic testing or want to learn more about your options?

Scientific advances reinforce the ever-growing need for genetic testing. Vita’s Vision: To provide all individuals with genetic testing options (Test.), facilitate understanding of personal genetics (Know.), accelerate learning and interpretation of personal genetics (Educate.), create actionable implementation of genetic knowledge (Advocate.).

Our ultimate goal or Mission is to make personalized medicine accessible for every person and their family, and we plan to accomplish this goal through our vision.

Ready to join us on our Mission? Learn more about your personal and family genetic makeup and personalized medicine options through our genetic test offerings.

Call us 1.800.590.9292 (toll free) or email at [email protected]

Test. Know. Educate. Advocate.

Read the full article here:


For employers of all sizes, schools, city and state organizations. Ensure your employees, students, and customers are safe.


call or click to learn more