No, there are significant differences in the hereditary tendency to acquire diabetes (Figure 2). In general Caucasians (non-Hispanic whites) have a lower tendency to develop type 2 diabetes than other ethnic groups. The situation with regard to type 1 diabetes is the opposite, with the highest prevalence currently being in the regions in and near Finland, Sardinia, and Kuwait. Lifestyle does not appear to be more important than the hereditary tendency in determining the chance of a person to develop type 1 diabetes. However, in the case of type 2 diabetes it is an important factor. Thus, certain ethnic groups may have a very high tendency to develop type 2 diabetes under one set of environmental circumstances, but they may have a very low tendency under different environmental conditions. A case in point is the Pima tribe of Native Americans living in Arizona. Half of the Pima have type 2 diabetes, while their genetically related cousins living in the Chiapas region of Mexico pursuing a nonurban lifestyle have a low frequency of the disorder. The two most common and most important factors contributing to a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes in groups at high hereditary risk are weight gain and lack of physical exercise.
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