Type 2 diabetes is a complex disease typically caused by multiple factors working in combination. This is the most common type of diabetes, and although it often develops in older or middle-aged individuals, it is no longer rare in youth. Children, adolescents and young adults also develop diabetes. The American Diabetes Association reports it is estimated that 208,000 Americans under age 20 have been diagnosed with diabetes, or approximately one quarter of that population.

What’s responsible for the alarming new trend of development of diabetes among the United States’ younger population? Although genetic susceptibility may play a role in triggering the condition, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes are also commonly caused by factors that can be controlled. Diabetes develops over time. There is a lot that can be done to delay or prevent its onset, and there is much that can help reverse the disease and improve quality of life for the person who has it.

Genetics can contribute to your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Specific genes and gene combinations may increase your risk. Ethnicity also plays a factor. Type 2 diabetes more frequently develops in Hispanics and Latinos, African Americans, several indigenous ethnic groups in the United States and others. Genes are only one potential cause or factor for developing diabetes. When other risk factors are also present, your vulnerability to developing diabetes increases.

One cause of type 2 diabetes is carrying too much weight or being obese. Although genes may put you at risk for weight gain, it is only a risk—not a guarantee. Obesity in combination with little or no physical activity is a strongly associated risk for developing the disease. Losing weight – even a small amount – can make a difference if you are pre-diabetic or you already have type 2 diabetes. It’s also very important to become physically active, as this can help you lose weight. Exercise can also help lower insulin levels and balance blood sugar, if done in the right way. Losing weight and becoming physically active can help you avoid or manage another potential contributing factor: high blood pressure.

If you’re pre-diabetic or at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, now is the time to take action. If you already have diabetes, it is not too late to begin to feel much better and enjoy a higher quality of life. Functional neurology is an excellent health care option to consider when you’re ready to set and achieve goals to improve your health. A practitioner trained in functional neurology will work with you to determine exactly what changes will most benefit your health in the short term as well as long term. He or she will also provide the tools, knowledge and support you need to achieve very specific, measurable results that can help manage or avoid development of type 2 diabetes.