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Lifestyle Responses to Genetic Susceptibility to Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Katie Thirlaway,
  2. Lindsey Davies

Published Online: 15 APR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0025377



How to Cite

Thirlaway, K. and Davies, L. 2014. Lifestyle Responses to Genetic Susceptibility to Type 2 Diabetes. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2014


Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that often leads to complications and increases the risk of a number of other diseases. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rising and is associated with western lifestyles; overconsumption of high calorie foods and predominantly sedentary daily routines. However, recent advances in genomic research has established that some individuals are more ‘at risk’ from behavioural risk factors than others. Type 2 diabetes therefore reflects multifactorial inheritance in which susceptibility is determined by the complex interaction of multiple genes with environmental and lifestyle factors. There has been considerable debate in the literature about whether genetic information could undermine healthy lifestyle decisions particularly for conditions like type 2 diabetes with multifactorial aetiology. The evidence that personalised genetic risk information engenders feelings of fatalism is mixed. Optimising lifestyle responses to genetic susceptibility to diabetes requires not only an appreciation of the complexity of disease aetiology by health professionals, but also an understanding of how individuals interpret and respond to this genetic risk.

Key Concepts:

  • Type 2 diabetes is a complex multifactorial disease.

  • Although type 2 diabetes is considered a ‘lifestyle’ disease it has a strong genetic component.

  • Information about genetic aetiology has the potential to influence lifestyle choices.

  • Understanding that type 2 diabetes has a genetic aetiology may increase fatalism in individuals.

  • Communication of genetic risk is important to ensure that healthy lifestyles are supported.


  • Type 2 diabetes;
  • genetic risk;
  • Fatalism;
  • family history;
  • lifestyle change;
  • perceived aetiology