Diabetes Alert Day, which will be observed on Tuesday, March 22, is intended as a wake-up call for Americans about the seriousness of the disease, particularly when left undiagnosed or untreated.

As part of the observance, the National Diabetes Education Program is bringing attention to risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including a family history of the disease and/or a history of gestational diabetes mellitus. The NDEP is encouraging people to take its Diabetes Risk Test, which can be found at http://ndep.nih.gov/ resources/ResourceDetail.aspx?ResId=252.

Family health history is an important risk factor for developing a number of serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes. In fact, most people with that form of the disease have a family member—such as a mother, father, brother, or sister—with type 2 diabetes.
Some racial and ethnic groups such as African Americans, people of African Ancestry, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders are also more likely to develop diabetes.

Other risk factors include being overweight, being physically inactive, having diabetes during pregnancy and being over 45.

According to the NDEP, while there are risk factors that people cannot change, such as family history and age, there are others associated with lifestyle that can be changed, such as being more physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. These steps can go a long way toward delaying and even preventing the development of type 2 diabetes, the NDEP said in a statement.