Diabetes Home > Diabetes Risk Factors
Reach and Maintain a Reasonable Body Weight
Your weight affects your health in many ways. Being overweight can keep your body from making and using insulin properly. Excess body weight can also cause high blood pressure.
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body weight relative to height. You can use BMI to see whether you are:
- Normal weight
Use the BMI Calculator to find your BMI.
If you are overweight or obese, choose sensible ways to get in shape. Here are a few suggestions for losing weight:
- Avoid crash diets. Instead, eat less of the foods you usually have. Limit the amount of fat you eat.
- Increase your physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Set a reasonable weight-loss goal, such as losing 1 pound a week. Aim for a long-term goal of losing 5 percent to 7 percent of your total body weight.
Make Wise Food Choices
What you eat has a big impact on your health. By making wise food choices, you can help control your body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Here are some suggestions that may help:
- Take a look at the serving sizes of the foods you eat. Reduce serving sizes of main courses (such as meat), desserts, and foods high in fat. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your fat intake to about 25 percent of your total calories. For example, if your food choices add up to about 2,000 calories a day, try to eat no more than 56 grams of fat. Your doctor or a dietitian can help you figure out how much fat to have. Also, check food labels for fat content.
- Limit your sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg (about 1 teaspoon of salt) each day.
- Talk with your doctor about whether you may drink alcoholic beverages. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, limit your intake to one drink (for women) or two drinks (for men) per day.
- You may also wish to reduce the number of calories you have each day. Your doctor or dietitian can help you with a meal plan that emphasizes weight loss.
- Keep a food and exercise log. Write down what you eat, how much you exercise, and anything else that helps keep you on track.
- When you meet your goal, reward yourself with a nonfood item or activity, like watching a movie.
Be Physically Active Every Day
Regular exercise tackles several diabetes risk factors at once. It helps:
- You lose weight
- You keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control
- Your body use insulin.
In a recent diabetes research study, people who were physically active for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes. Many people chose brisk walking for exercise.
If you are not very active, you should start slowly, talking with your doctor first about what kinds of exercise would be safe for you. Make a plan to increase your activity level toward the goal of being active at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
Choose activities you enjoy. Here are some ways to work extra activity into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator.
- Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk.
- Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- Walk or bicycle whenever you can.
Take Your Prescribed Medications
Some people need medication to help control their blood pressure or cholesterol levels. If you do, take your medicines as directed. Ask your doctor whether there are any medicines you can take to prevent type 2 diabetes.