Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

With some extra care and attention, you may prevent type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes prevention is possible by adopting some healthy lifestyle habits and paying attention to specific preventable diabetes complications associated with the disease. Some steps for prevention include adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking diabetes medication , if needed. Many doctors recommend screening for type 2 diabetes at age 30 among people at risk, such as those with a family history of diabetes or who are overweight.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including screening tests for type 2 diabetes, at no cost to you. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

 

Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Prevent Diabetes

First, certain diabetes risk factors like age, family history, and ethnicity cannot be changed. However, changing other risk factors by eating a healthier diet and increased physical activity -- with or without weight loss -- may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

In addition, if you have high blood pressure or are overweight, modifying lifestyle habits may help prevent type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can make specific recommendations that are right for you including diet changes and specific exercises. Medications to help you quit smoking, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure also help reduce the risk of complications.

A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health and published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that being overweight and obese was the single most important risk factor that predicted who would develop type 2 diabetes. During a 16 year follow-up period, study results showed that regular exercise -- at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week -- and an improved diet that's low in fat and high in fiber significantly helped with type 2 diabetes prevention. The bottom line: type 2 diabetes prevention could be as easy as adopting healthy lifestyle habits.

In another study, the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study Group, researchers tested the effects of weight loss, diet, and exercise on type 2 diabetes prevention in more than 500 people who were overweight and also had pre-diabetes or borderline diabetes with an impaired oral glucose tolerance test. They concluded that with changes geared at weight loss and improving physical activity levels, people at high risk of developing diabetes could reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 50%.

Medication's Role in Diabetes Prevention

New research shows that medications may help prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes in people with impaired glucose tolerance -- and not just in controlling type 2 diabetes once you have it. There are several different studies that show that various types of diabetes drugs, along with a healthy lifestyle, can reduce the risk of developing diabetes in a high-risk person.

One clinical trial, called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), showed that people who have a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes (borderline diabetes or pre-diabetes) could reduce that risk by 31% when using the prescription diabetes drug Metformin alone with lifestyle and diet changes. While this is significant, the NIH study also showed that the risk of diabetes could be reduced even further -- by 58% -- through intensive lifestyle changes alone (specifically, nutrition and exercise counseling). Participants in the study had blood sugar levels that were higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. This health condition, called pre-diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), often precedes diabetes if intervention is not done early.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on August 15, 2012
Next Article:

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections