risk of developing type 2 diabetes if family history of diabetes

Last reviewed 01/2018

There is evidence that Type 2 diabetes has a strong familial basis:

  • at least 40% of siblings of subjects with type 2 diabetes can expect to also develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime (1)
    • risk is based on the assumption that survival will be to the age of 80 years (1)
  • study evidence has revealed the relative risk of developing diabetes in a Pima Indian population (adjusted for age and obesity) was (2):
    • 2.3 times in offspring with one affected parent
    • 3.9 times greater in offspring with two affected parents
  • evidence for the genetic nature of the disease of type 2 diabetes also comes from twin studies
    • one study involving monozygotic twins revealed that the concordance rate for type 2 diabetes was increased at 58% (3). This compared with the expected prevalence of 10% (3)


  1. Kobberling JTH. Empirical risk figures for first degree relatives of noninsulin dependent diabetics. Academic Press London:201-09.
  2. Knowler WC, Pettitt DJ, Savage PJ, Bennett PH. Diabetes incidence in Pima indians: contributions of obesity and parental diabetes. Am J Epidemiol 1981;113:144-56.
  3. Newman B, Selby JV, King MC, Slemenda C, Fabsitz R, Friedman GD.Concordance for type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus in male twins. Diabetologia 1987;30:763-8