According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes depend on a combination of environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors. Some factors, like physical activity and eating habits, are more in one’s control than factors like family history or ethnicity, but with the right planning and action, people can help reduce their odds, and sometimes completely prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
- Being overweight (having a body mass index of 25-29.9) or obese (having a body mass index of 30 or more). You can calculate your body mass index (BMI) here.
- Being 45 or older
- Having a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
- Living with high blood pressure
- Having a low level of HDL cholesterol OR a high level of triglycerides
- Previously had gestational diabetes OR gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
- Not getting regular exercise
- Having a history of heart disease/stroke
The American Diabetes Association also has a free diabetes risk test that one can take to assess their individual risk.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
There are some scientifically proven ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, if one is at higher risk for the disease. Mainly, losing weight if one is overweight or obese and becoming more physically active (increasing activity to at least 150 minutes per week) are the most effective ways to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
The National Diabetes Prevention Program is an evidence-based lifestyle change program, covered by most health plans, that works with patients at risk for type 2 diabetes to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. This program has a hyper focus on everyday habits one can change and adopt to lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, like ways to increase physical activity and helpful tips and advice for healthier eating. Studies have proven the success of the program: participants who achieved weight loss of 5-7% of their body weight reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%.
A 10-year follow-up study, The Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study, showed that participants in the intervention group were still 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes a decade later than individuals in the placebo group. Participants who did develop type 2 diabetes delayed the onset of it by about four years.
Other Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
If the National Diabetes Prevention Program isn’t covered by your health plan or a program doesn’t exist in your area, there are three main ways to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes on your own (always consult your doctor before beginning any weight loss plan):
- If you are overweight or obese, lose 5-7% of your body weight
- Get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, or aim for 30 minutes most days of the week
- Eat smaller portions of the foods you love, and replace sugar-sweetened beverages with water
Ask your healthcare provider for additional advice about preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes, including taking or omitting certain medications to mitigate your risk of developing the disease.
Prediabetes is when one’s blood glucose is higher than normal, but not high enough to diagnose as diabetes. Prediabetes is a serious condition, because it significantly raises the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. About 1 in 3 Americans has prediabetes, and it can be hard to track and diagnose, because it often doesn’t have any symptoms, and people who have prediabetes usually feel fine. It is crucially important that all people regularly see their primary care providers for routine check-ups, as prediabetes can often be caught in the early stages and managed well when detected early. Prediabetes is often called “borderline diabetes” or “glucose intolerance” or “impaired glucose intolerance”.
One can manage their prediabetes and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes by losing weight (if needed), becoming more physically active, and following a reduced-calorie diet plan. Consult with your doctor if you think you have prediabetes, and request a glucose test for confirmation and to make a treatment plan. With a little planning and proactive action, you can delay or completely prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Have you recently been diagnosed with prediabetes, and/or have you started a program to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes? What tactics and strategies have been most successful for you? Share this post and comment below; we love hearing from our readers!