Type 2 Diabetes: Act Now to Lower your Risk

We all live with risks to our health, and we do what we can to lower them. For instance, we buckle our seat belts when we get in a car. We take our medicines as prescribed. And we get the vaccines that we need.

But there is another serious health risk that we need to take steps to prevent and that many of us overlook: type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes has the potential to hurt our bodies from head to toe. If not well controlled, type 2 diabetes can cause heart disease, stroke, eye, and foot problems, and more.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent or delay this most common form of diabetes.

Who is at Risk?

You may be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight or obese.
  • Are 45 years old or over.
  • Have a family history of diabetes.
  • Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.
  • Have high blood pressure.
  • Have a low level of HDL cholesterol or a high level of triglycerides.
  • Have had gestational diabetes or had a baby weighing 9 or more pounds.
  • Are physically inactive.
  • Have a history of heart disease or stroke.
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • Have acanthosis nigricans — dark, thick, velvety skin around your neck or armpits.

How Can I Help Prevent it?

Type 2 diabetes doesn't have to be in your future. Research shows that healthy eating and exercise habits can significantly lower your risk of developing the disease.

Here Are Three Things to Try:

Shed a few pounds if you're overweight. Losing just 5% to 7% of your starting weight can make a difference. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, set a goal of losing 10 to 14 pounds.

Get moving. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. If you've been inactive, check with your health care provider about which activities are best for you. Start slowly and build up to your goal.

Eat healthy foods — but not too much. Lower your daily calorie intake by eating smaller portions. For example, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits and just a quarter of it with a low-fat protein and the other quarter with whole grains. Choose low-fat foods that don't have a lot of sugar, salt, or calories. Drink water instead of sweet beverages. Keep your tastebuds happy: Use spices and herbs rather than salty, fatty, and sugary condiments to flavor your food.

You can do it!

If you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, you can take control, starting today. Talk with your primary care practitioner about more ways to prevent this disease.