Return to Index
Reducing Your Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or have risk factors for type 2 diabetes, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing the condition. These steps include:
Regular Exercise and Weight Loss
Insulin is a hormone produced in the body. It helps glucose move out of the blood and into body tissue for use as energy. Excess body weight makes your tissue less responsive to insulin. This can lead to high blood glucose levels. By losing weight, your body tissue will be more sensitive to insulin and will be better able to use insulin.
Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes in 2 ways:
- Exercise alone lowers blood glucose levels by making your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Regular exercise will help you lose weight.
Heart disease is a common complication of diabetes. Regular exercise can help lower the levels of fat and cholesterol in your blood and lower your blood pressure. This will decrease your risk for heart disease.
Choose exercises that you enjoy. Make it part of your daily routine. Strive to maintain an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. The goal should be to exercise for at least 150 minutes/week. This should be moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, riding a bicycle, playing tennis, or doing water aerobics. In addition, strength training should be done at least twice a week. Examples of strength training include using free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands.
Before you start any exercise program, talk to your doctor. It is important that you wear a diabetes identification bracelet when you exercise.
Too little sleep can contribute to weight gain. Aim for 7-8 hours of good sleep each night.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) offers these guidelines for reducing your risk of developing diabetes:
- Eat a healthy diet that includes whole grains , fruits, vegetables , and low-fat dairy products.
- Reduce your intake of saturated fats (such as whole milk, cream, ice cream, meat).
- Eat a diet low in cholesterol.
If you want to change your eating habits, ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help you create an individualized eating plan that includes all of the nutrients your body needs.
Medications commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes may also be prescribed to prevent the condition in people who are at high risk. Examples of these medications include:
American Diabetes Association. American Diabetes Association position statement: standards of medical care in diabetes 2010. Diabetes Care. 2010;33 (Suppl 1):S1-S2.
American Diabetes Association. Executive summary: standards of medical care in diabetes—2010. Diabetes Care. 2010;(33 Suppl 1):S4-S10.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 7, 2016. Accessed August 23, 2016.
Diagnosing diabetes and learning about prediabetes. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/prediabetes. Updated December 9, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2016.
Evidence-based nutrition principles and recommendations for the treatment and prevention of diabetes and related complications. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/suppl%5F1/s50.full?loc=what-to-do-prediabetes. Accessed August 23, 2016.
Measuring physical activity intensity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/measuring. Updated June 4, 2015. Accessed August 23, 2016.
11/29/2006 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Lindstrom J, Ilanne-Parikka P, Peltonen M, et al. Sustained reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes by lifestyle intervention: follow-up of the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study. Lancet. 2006;368(9548):1673-1679.
11/29/2006 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: DREAM (Diabetes Reduction Assessment with ramipril and rosiglitazone Medication) Trial Investigators, Gerstein HC, Yusuf S, et al. Effect of rosiglitazone on the frequency of diabetes in patients with impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2006;368(9541):1096-1105.
10/12/2009 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Crandall JP, Polsky S, Howard AA, et al. Alcohol consumption and diabetes risk in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90:595-601.
10/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Carter P, Gray LJ, Troughton J, Khunti K, Davies MJ. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2010;341:c4229.
1/31/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Salas-Salvadó J, Bulló M, Babio N, et al. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with the Mediterranean diet: results of the PREDIMED-Reus nutrition intervention randomized trial. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(1):14-19.
4/22/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Phung OJ, Sood NA, Sill BE, Coleman CI. Oral anti-diabetic drugs for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med. 2011;28(8):948-964.
- Reviewer: Kim Carmichael, MD
- Review Date: 08/2016
- Update Date: 08/23/2016