About one in three Singaporeans has a lifetime risk of developing diabetes, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH). Here is what you need to know about the different types of diabetes and risk factors.

What is it?
Risk Factors
Your blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Close relatives with diabetes
BMI of 23.0 kg/m2 or higher
Inactive lifestyle
History of gestational diabetes
Abnormal blood cholesterol/lipid levels
High blood pressure
Aged 40 years and above
Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose
Type 1 Diabetes
Chronic condition where pancreas is unable to produce insulin normally.
Family history of diabetes
Also suffer from pancreatic diseases
Type 2 Diabetes
The most common form of diabetes where your body is unable to use insulin properly.
Same as prediabetes
Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes happens when women without diabetes show high blood glucose during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.

Overweight or obese
Family history of diabetes
You previously gave birth to a baby who weighed 4kg or more at birth
You had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas loses its ability to produce insulin, the hormone which helps to regulate your blood glucose level. While the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown, it is thought that genetics and viruses may play a part in its development. 
You may have an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes if you:
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Suffer from pancreatic diseases

Gestational Diabetes

This form of diabetes is brought about by hormonal changes in pregnancy that cause a high blood glucose level. While it is true that the blood glucose levels of women with gestational diabetes often return to normal after giving birth, they may also have an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes afterwards.
You may have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes if you: 
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have a family history of gestational diabetes
  • Are aged older than 35

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in Singapore and can be prevented and managed by making healthy lifestyle choices.
You may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you:
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Have a BMI value of 23 or higher
  • Are physically inactive
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol or abnormal lipid levels
  • Were affected by gestational diabetes
  • Are aged 40 years and above
  • Have impaired glucose tolerance and/or impaired fasting glucose 

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetics have blood glucose level readings that range between 7.8 millimoles per litre (mmol/l) and 11mmol/l two hours after an oral glucose tolerance test — higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. If you have been diagnosed as prediabetic, it is important for you to make the necessary lifestyle changes (such as regular exercise and weight loss) as soon as possible to prevent your condition from escalating into type 2 diabetes.

What Should I Do?

Diabetes is often called a “silent” disease as many patients may experience mild or no symptoms at all in its early stages. However, an early diagnosis (such as prediabetes, which is reversible) may help to prevent your condition from worsening. You can also reverse prediabetes with simple steps like eating right and adopting an active lifestyle. Regular health screening is thus the most effective way for you to detect diabetes so you can get the treatment you need. 
If you are aged between 18 and 39 years old, find out your risk of developing type 2 diabetes using the Diabetes Risk Assessment. If you are aged 40 years and above, you are recommended to undergo health screening in Singapore once every three years under HPB's Screen for Life programme.