Type 2 diabetes: 5 easy ways to reduce your risk

November 29, 2014 | by Nicole White

Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of the 21 million diagnosed diabetes cases in the U.S. (Another 8.1 million are undiagnosed.) But preventive action can be powerful.

Even modest weight loss - 5 to 10 percent of body weight - can reduce risk for type 2 diabetes. Even modest weight loss - 5 to 10 percent of body weight - can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Even modest lifestyle changes can greatly decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, helping ward off a serious health threat. Diabetes not only increases the risk of death, it can lead to a host of complications such as blindness, heart disease and stroke.

Making one or two small changes per week will, over time, add up to a considerably healthier lifestyle. Doing so may also prevent type 2 diabetes.

As Diabetes Awareness Month draws to a close, we offer these tips to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

1. Know your risk. Age is one significant risk factor, with people 45 and older being at greater risk. Weight is also a risk factor. The National Institutes of Health offers an at-risk weight chart to help people determine if they may be at risk. Having family members with diabetes; being African-American, Latino, American Indian, Asian-American or Pacific Islander; having had gestational diabetes; being inactive; and having higher-than-normal glucose levels, high blood pressure or high triglyceride levels are also among the risk factors.

2. Lose a little weight. Modest weight loss can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health's Diabetes Prevention Program study, even a little weight loss can make a difference in risk. Just a 5 to 7 percent weight loss – that’s 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person – can prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

3. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week. A brisk walk, mowing the lawn, swimming, cycling or dancing are all activities that could fit the bill. It’s OK to start with shorter amounts of time and add a few minutes as you become more fit. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s better to walk 10 to 20 minutes daily than do a single one-hour workout a week.

4. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods. Focus on low-calorie, healthy, filling foods. Dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, orange vegetables, and beans and peas are great choices. Fiber-rich food with whole grains are also an important component of a healthy diet. Steer clear of fruit-flavored drinks, sodas and high sodium foods like canned soups, canned vegetables and processed meats.

5. Plan and track. The Diabetes Prevention Program also found those who log their food intake and physical activity were more likely to lose weight than those who did not. Many free websites allow you to track food choices and exercise, and the Diabetes Prevention Program offers a downloadable tracker, if you prefer the paper-and-pen approach.

** Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting us online or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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