According to the International Diabetes Federation, in 2015, 1 in 11 adults had type 2 diabetes. This number is expected to increase to 1 in 10 adults by the year 2040.
Diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure, limb amputation, and new-onset blindness in American adults. Additionally, people with diabetes are more likely to develop and die from cardiovascular disease, and their risk for stroke is 2-4 times higher than people without diabetes.
Though these statistics are alarming, type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable. The following preventative measures may help decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Know The Risk Factors for Diabetes
Several risk factors increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes, including:
- Family history of diabetes
- Unhealthy weight/obesity
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of physical activity
- High blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes is also more common in certain populations, including:
- Women with a history of gestational diabetes
- Children of women who had gestational diabetes
- African Americans, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders
- Aging adults
Knowing your risk factors can help you determine a course of action that will help you minimize your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
The number one cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity, particularly abdominal obesity. Losing even a small amount of weight—10 to 15 pounds for an individual who weighs 200 pounds—can significantly decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. For adults age 60 and older, a healthy weight loss program can decrease the risk of diabetes by 71%.
To maintain a healthy weight, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day. Aerobic activities such as swimming, biking, dancing, or walking briskly can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by as much as 40%. The greatest benefits come from an exercise regimen that includes both aerobic activity and resistance training, which can reduce your sensitivity to insulin and help keep your blood sugar within a normal range.
Eat Healthy Foods
Choosing low-fat foods, eating smaller portions, and skipping or sharing dessert can go a long way toward diabetes prevention. Avoid “fad” or crash diets, which are difficult to maintain and can do more harm than good. The National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has a list of helpful tips to maintain healthy eating habits as well as charts to help you determine how many calories you should consume each day to maintain a healthy weight.
See Your Doctor to Discuss Diabetes
You should see your doctor if you have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes or if you have any of the following symptoms commonly associated the disease:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Weight loss
- Lack of energy
- Slow-healing wounds
- Tingling sensations in the hands or feet
- Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken for the flu)
It is possible, however, to have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes—a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes—with few or no symptoms.
In fact, the International Diabetes Federation estimates that 1 in 2 adults living with diabetes remain undiagnosed. To ensure early detection, visit your doctor for blood glucose screening if:
- You’re age 45 or older; or if
- You’re younger than age 45 and overweight or have one or more risk factors for type 2 diabetes, such as a sedentary lifestyle or a family history of diabetes.
Diabetes prevention: Five tips for taking control. (2016). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-prevention/art-20047639?pg=2
Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). (2016). The National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/about-niddk/research-areas/diabetes/diabetes-prevention-program-dpp/Pages/default.aspx
Preventing diabetes. (2016, September 30). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Prevention. (2015). International Diabetes Federation. Retrieved from http://www.idf.org/prevention