Skip to content

Habits Secretly Increasing Your Diabetes Risk, Say Physicians

These five habits are strongly linked with diabetes.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Diabetes is a chronic health condition affecting over 37.3 million people in the U.S., leading to kidney failure, heart attacks, blindness, stroke and lower limb amputation, and more. "Type 2 diabetes is multifactorial," says Sharon Bergquist MD, "meaning that a person's genes, environment, and lifestyle work together to lead to the disease. Some of the increased risk may be attributed to genetic susceptibility, but a higher percentage is likely due to environment and lifestyle, which can be influenced by culture and socioeconomics." Here are five habits significantly increasing your risk of diabetes, according to doctors. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Cheat Day Is Cheating Your Health

Woman counting calories on her phone for a junk food dessert treat doughnut

It might be time to rethink the concept of "cheat day"—researchers found that even one day of binge-eating can impair blood sugar control. "This is important as excess sugar levels can be toxic," says Dr Carl Hulston. "Not only this, but sustained over-production of insulin – by the pancreas – can lead to pancreatic dysfunction and an inability to produce insulin when it is needed [type 2 diabetes]. These facts highlight the need to be conscious of what we eat and how it might affect our health."

"Our pilot data suggests that a single day of high-fat overfeeding is sufficient to impair whole-body insulin sensitivity in young, healthy individuals; this may have implications for those with binge eating disorders, or those who overeat during holiday periods or at times of celebration," says researcher Siôn Parry.


Binge-Watching Is Bad For You

A woman in her 40s wearing headphones and eating popcorn while watching a movie on a streaming service on a laptop at night.

There is a strong correlation between TV-watching and type 2 diabetes—one study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) showed excessive TV time was associated with serious health conditions. "The message is simple. Cutting back on TV watching can significantly reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature mortality," says Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH. "We should not only promote increasing physical activity levels but also reduce sedentary behaviors, especially prolonged TV watching."

RELATED: Doctors Warn About These COVID Symptoms


…And So Is Binge-Drinking Alcohol

alcoholic beverages

Binge drinking alcohol even once a week can lead to insulin resistance, researchers have discovered. "Insulin resistance has emerged as a key metabolic defect leading to Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD)," says Christoph Buettner, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease). "Someone who regularly binge drinks even once a week, over many years, may remain in an insulin resistant state for an extended period of time, potentially years."

RELATED: Reasons Most People Gain "Too Much" Abdominal Fat


Smoking and Diabetes

Business man in glasses and warm clothes smoking cigarette on the street

"Smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers," warns the FDA. "Smoking can also make managing the disease and regulating insulin levels more difficult because high levels of nicotine can lessen the effectiveness of insulin, causing smokers to need more insulin to regulate blood sugar levels." 

RELATED: Here's What Endometriosis Feels Like, Say Physicians


A Growing Waistline Is a Growing Risk

Overweight woman in tight clothes at home is trying to fit into tight jeans.

Belly fat—also known as visceral fat—is dangerous fat stored deep in the abdomen, surrounding vital organs such as the liver and intestines. Belly fat is strongly linked to a number of serious health conditions, including diabetes. "Among obese individuals, it is not necessarily how much fat a person has, but rather where the fat is located on a person that leads to diabetes," says Dr. James de Lemos, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern. 

"We found that individuals who developed prediabetes and diabetes had evidence of early cardiovascular disease years before the onset of diabetes," says cardiologist Dr. Ian Neeland. "This finding suggests that excess visceral fat and insulin resistance may contribute to cardiovascular disease among obese individuals."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
Filed Under