Family History of Type 2 Ups Risk of Prediabetes

People with a family history of Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing prediabetes, according to a new analysis from the German Center for Diabetes Research. Approximately 79 million people in the United States currently have prediabetes.


Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are elevated, but are not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. An A1C level from 5.7–6.4% indicates prediabetes, as does a blood glucose level from 100–125 mg/dl on a fasting plasma glucose test or a blood glucose level of 140–199 mg/dl on an oral glucose tolerance test. (A diagnosis must be confirmed by another test on a subsequent day.) People with prediabetes are at high risk for developing Type 2.

A family history of Type 2 diabetes is known to increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes. To determine whether a family history of Type 2 is also associated with an increased risk for prediabetes, researchers looked at data from 8,106 people without diabetes collected in four study centers around Germany. Among the participants, 5,482 had normal blood glucose levels while 2,624 had prediabetes.

Analyzing whether having at least one first-degree relative with Type 2 was associated with prediabetes, the researchers found that a family history of diabetes increased the risk of having prediabetes by 40%. When they adjusted for age, sex, and body-mass index (a measure of weight relative to height), the risk fell to 26%.

Further analysis revealed that the association between a family history of diabetes and prediabetes was seen only in people who were not obese. According to the study authors, “This might indicate [that] the effect of family history on prediabetes becomes readily measurable only when not overshadowed by strong risk factors such as obesity.”

For more information, read the article “Family History of Diabetes Increases the Risk of Prediabetes by 26 Percent, With Effect Most Evident in Non-Obese” or review the study’s abstract in the journal Diabetologia. And to learn more about prediabetes, see this page from Joslin Diabetes Center.

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  • Catherine L.

    Why does the medical community not take a more aggressive stance on preventing diabetes in their patients in the first place, especially by alerting those of us who are at high risk? I wish my internist had actually read my medical records. As a new patient I filled out all the forms about family history and they were in his files. I never knew and was never told by any of my doctors that having both parents diagnosed with type two diabetes put me at a much higher risk for prediabetes. By the time I was diagnosed nearly 4 years ago, I was almost 60 pounds heavier than I am today. The only reason I was diagnosed was because I developed painful peripheral neuropathy in my hands and feet. I am now at my high school weight and walk 25 to 30 miles a week, but I will forever be at risk of developing full-blown diabetes. My neuropathy is only kept at bay because of the heavy dose of gabapentin I take daily. I also must take a hefty dose of metformin each day as well.

  • Arun V. Panat

    I fully agree of the findings of the paper. In my studies of family history analysis among Brahmin class of the Indian society , I had a similar experience . I found many families with a FH of diabetes without obesity. Later when I looked in the Sushrit Sanhita ( Traditional Ayurveda system of India ) I found that the then sugeon Sushruta also described ikshu meha ( means diabetes) as ” Sahaja i.e. with family history and diabetes due to obesity which is formed due to junk food or improper food consumption and sedentary life style.
    In my article I did not mention this fact due to want of further studies.