Diabetes Home > Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

There is a lot you can do to lower your risk of getting diabetes. Ways to reduce risk and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes include exercising regularly, reducing fat and calorie intake, and losing weight. Other things you can do to help prevent this condition include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Prevented?

Although people with diabetes can prevent or delay complications by keeping blood glucose levels close to normal, preventing or delaying the development of type 2 diabetes in the first place is even better.

Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Through Lifestyle Changes

You can do a lot to lower your chances of getting diabetes. Ways to help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes include:
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing fat and calorie intake
  • Losing weight.
Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels can also help you stay healthy.
A recent study showed that lifestyle modifications resulting in a 5 to 7 percent weight loss could delay and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes. These lifestyle modifications consisted of exercise about 30 minutes a day, five days a week (usually walking) and lowering intake of fat and calories.
Lifestyle modifications were even more effective in those age 60 and older. They reduced their risk by 71 percent.

Know the Risk Factors

There are a number of type 2 diabetes risk factors, including:
  • Age: People over 45 years of age are at a higher risk for diabetes.
  • Overweight: People who are overweight, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25 (23 if Asian American; 26 if a Pacific Islander).
(Click Diabetes Risk Factors for more about BMI or BMI Calculator.)
  • Blood pressure: People with blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm/Hg are at increased risk (see High Blood Pressure).
  • Abnormal lipid levels: Men with an HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) of less than 40 mg/dL and women with an HDL cholesterol of less than 50 mg/dL are at increased risk for diabetes. People with triglyceride levels of 250 mg/dL or more are also at an increased risk.
  • Family history: People with a parent or sibling with diabetes are at a higher-than-normal risk of getting the disease.
  • Ethnicity: Statistics show that people of African-American, American Indian, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Island heritage have an increased risk of developing diabetes.
  • History of gestational diabetes: Women who have previously had gestational diabetes or given birth to at least one baby weighing nine pounds or more are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Inactive lifestyle: People who exercise fewer than three times per week may be at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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