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Study Shows 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 90%

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that the majority of new cases of diabetes in those over 65 could be prevented by modest changes in lifestyle. We've always known that type 2 diabetes is a disease that can largely be prevented by doing things like eating right and exercising regularly. But this study demonstrates that there are 5 lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk by as much as 90%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, type 2 diabetes affects 24 million Americans, many of them being older adults. This study tracked participants over a period of 10 years and collected data through questionnaires and physical exams. From there they were grouped into a high-risk or low-risk group based on each factor. The lifestyle factors that were examined in the study included physical activity, diet, smoking habits, alcohol use, and amount of body fat. Researchers found that the risk of diabetes was 35 percent lower for each one additional lifestyle factor in the low-risk group. That means that you don't have to be perfect in every area to reap the benefits- even small changes can positively affect your risk.

Participants were only divided into 2 groups, so someone who did any kind of physical activity, for example, would have been in the low risk group. It doesn't mean they spent hours at the gym compared to the high risk participants, but could just mean they took light walks on a regular basis compared to someone who did no exercise. Again, this is reinforcement that small changes can make a big difference.

Here's a recap of the 5 changes you can make today to significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:

1. Physical activity- Something is better than nothing. You don't have to be a gym rat to reap the benefits of regular exercise.
2. Diet- Make sure you're getting enough fiber and healthy fat in your diet. Limit your consumption of processed foods and sweets.
3. Smoking- Don't start, but if you are a smoker, work on quitting today.
4. Alcohol use- Aim for less than 2 alcoholic drinks per day.
5. Body fat- Work on getting your BMI into the healthy range and a healthy waist-to-hip ratio.

What do you think? Are you surprised that these changes could have such significant results?

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What about genetics? Diabetes runs in my family. Take my dad for example. He was diagnosed w/ Diabetes about 5 years ago. He's always been very health conscious watching what he eats & makes it a habit to exercise regularly. He quit drinking alcohol in the 1970's when he was diagnosed as being Bi-polar... Quit smoking in the late 1970's as well. He was also at a healthy weight before being diagnosed w/ Terminal Cancer (now he's about 2-3 lbs under weight due to the Chemo treatments). Report
That is why I'm trying to get to a healthy weight and exercising. I don't want to become a diabetic. I've never smoked - just lived with my parents when they were smokers, and average less than 1 drink per week. Trying to get the rest healthy now! Report
Those are the same 5 things we have been hearing about for a very long time. All pretty much common sense stuff. Report
For some people this would be changing their whole life !! Report
I do all these things already for that reason. Diabetes runs in my family. I don't want to get it either. So I will continue eat right & exercise. Report
I'm not surprised at all. I have a family history of diabetes and that's exactly why I'm here. To learn healthy eating habits and to slim down and lower my BMI. Report
Are you surprised that these changes could have such significant results?

Nope. This is eactly one of the specific reasons that I joined SparkPeople, to help me from having to learn about this subject in any more detail!
I was gestationally diabetic, and I was told that it was a preview of coming attractions if I wasn't careful. So, starting at nearly the weight I was at the heaviest of my pregnancies without benefit of a bundle of joy anticipated...I joined y'all! Thanks! Report
Prevention of diabetes and heart disease is one of the big reasons I have taken this step to a healthier lifestyle. I am at prime risk due to my genetics, so I am sure hoping that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Only wish I had started this journey many years ago. Report
Diabetes is growing in large numbers, one of the many reasons like others here that have joined Spark People. Thanks for the eye opener.

Prevention is the key for me.
Very interesting article. My mother passed away due to complications from diabetes, as well as my grandmother and aunt. That being said, I do as much research as possible and try to incorporate recommended health tips into my daily lifestyle. I find articles like yours very inspirtational, especially on the days when I'm struggling to eat properly and excercise. Report
Yes, everyone should practise these rules and teach them to their children! Report
Exactly. Diabetes or not, one should do all of the above. Report
These are also all tips for a healthy lifestyle, diabetes or not. Report
I ahve type 2 and come from a family with mom, younger brother and my twin sisters all ahve insulin dependent type 1 diabetes. I am doing my best tto take good care of myself. This is a great Blog. thank you. Report
I have type 2 diabetes and with the 5 basic steps I have lower my AIC% from 12.7 to 7.2. Thanks for all the information that has helped me on my discovery of living healthier Report
great blog.. with a mom and sister with diabetes it is great information thanks Report
I find this to be way over-simplified. My husband has type II diabetes and he never smoked, was always athletic, has very low body fat, and rarely ever drinks. We need to eat and behave in healthy ways, obviously, but it doesn't always prevent diabetes. It's a pancreas issue.

Also, the article says to try to limit alcoholic beverages to 2 per day??? Wow, that's a lot of daily drinking, don't you think? I don't think a drink EVERY DAY is a good idea, do you? Report
It is always good to try and reduce your risk, but heretiary can be pretty strong. Both my father and his brother have type 2 diabetes, as did their father. No one of the three of them were/are overwieght, they all are active, non-smokers that eat reasonably healthy. (Dad tends to eat too many dried fruits but not much else in regards to sweets.)
I wish education on type 2 diabetes would also include heretiary risk. Report
Proof that "just a little dab will do ya" ! (old Dippity Do slogan) Report
This is a good article, however, it is not true for everyone. My dad walks 3 miles a day over hills, gardens year round, quit smoking 45 years ago, has normal BMI, does not drink, is 86 years old, has never been big on sweets, and has no family history of Diabetes. But, he has type II diabetes and is on insulin. Go figure! Report
This is a hard subject for me...being an Africian American, cholestrol is always
high. I come from a bloodline of tall obese people. I've always worked hard at my weight keeping it under 1000 calories and less...which reeks havoc on me by
being obese since the age of two and always dieting. Greatgrand parents were 6 ft and 300 lbs, Native /African American grandparents were both almost 6ft tall. I have a picture of my great grand mother 250lbs 5'8, grandmother was short at 5'6 and my mother short at 5'7. I am 5'8 the shortest of 3 siblings and at 220 the smallest. Diabetes is not in the family but heart deseise is.
Still on the mend from smoking, not being a drinker, not meeting nutricinal needs
is un nerving for me at 58. I want to be a normal size just to be normal from being obese. Report
This is great! Report
This is great information! Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family and this is motivating to see how I can prevent or at least greatly lesson my chances for myself!! Report
Oh, my goodness! 90% is amazing - almost like a guarantee! I have to admit that postponing/preventing diabetes is one of my top reasons for starting my healthy living adventure and joining SPARK. These changes are so doable! Well, I am not a smoker so, I don't have THAT battle to face . . .
Printing these out as one of my visual aids and saving the page to review in the future. Report
I read a similiar study (maybe even an earlier version of this story) a couple of years ago. What was amazing to me, really amazing, is how little weight loss made a significant difference in whether or not you developed type II diabetes. If I remember correctly, 10% of your body weight, 150 minutes of exercise a week resulted in the 90% reduction in risk. I remember the number of 150, because that was the number I have set for my "goal" for each week. And I told my brother (at 300 pounds, whose doc was all over him as being pre diabetic) that just losing 30 pounds would make a difference.

Diabetes runs in my family so I am doing all I can to prevent it. Report
This is absolutely amazing and as a Home Health Nurse I will gladly use what I learned here in my everyday teaching to my patients. Report
Read ARTHUR AGATSTON, M.D.'s book "The South Beach Diet Heart Health" and he explains Metabolic Syndrome and pre-diabetes. He developed the SOUTH BEACH DIET for his Cardiology patients who were having heart attacks following the AHA low fat diet, so he NEVER started out to write a best selling diet book. He is a knowledgable Cardiologist and on the staff of U. of Miami Medical School. Report
Well aren't those five things the cornerstone of good health and reduced risk of most diseases? Nothing here we don't already know. No....not surprising. Report
I have type 2 and working hard to get rid of it through diet and exercise now. I quit smoking 8 year ago. I only drink wine. Hoping the diet and exercise will reduce the BMI to a healthy level. Report
Thanks for another positive reinforcement of all my hard work the last couple of years! Just another thing I hopefully won't get! Report
After dealing with the highs & lows of my Diabetes Type II for several years, I found Spark & am determined to stay focused to change my unhealthy habits. I've seen some of the issues my father has dealt with regarding his diabetes & don't want to have to deal with those same issues. My goal is to become healthy enough to reduce or even eliminate some of my meds. Report
With my strong family history or heart disease and diabetes I'd be foolish to ignore doing the right things now in order to stay healthy and have a great quality of life. It's all about the choices we make. Report
This is TOTALLY true and I'm living proof. After some health issues 5 yrs ago, I had a couple incidents where my blood sugar was high I got violently sick. As a nurse, I understand the relationship between blood sugar and carbohydrates. I put myself on the South Beach Diet, which, in the first 2 weeks cuts out most things that quickly raise your blood sugar. I regularly checked my blood sugar and it stayed within the upper normal limits as I started losing weight. I extended those first 2 weeks out until I had lost 75lbs...adding back fruits, of course. My blood sugars eventually normalized and I mostly quit checking them, knowing I was eating right. After the weight loss, I was still scared to eat carbs, not sure what my blood sugar would do. However, I started gradually adding back bread and pasta (whole wheat of course) and I've had NO blood sugar issues since I lost the weight. Once I reintroduced carbs, I did start gaining back some of the weight I lost and I decided I'd rather exercise than give up bread again - lol. I'm in better shape now than I have been in a long time. My uncle died at a young age due to complications of Type II diabetes and my father was diagnosed with the same just after my uncle died. My grandmother (their mother) also had diabetes and died around the same time my uncle did. This impacted me in ways you cannot imagine, but it motivates me to warn others of the dangers of waiting too long to get their health under control!!! Report
I have type 2 diabetes and before I got it I had just started exercising again after 5 or 6 years of not doing anything. I had quit smoking 4 years before and quit drinking 10 years before I was diagnosed. I have been on a diet and exercise routine since last year when I was diagnosed. I don't take pills or anything. My numbers are usually low or within limits. I do know before I had quit exercising that I had always walked because I was a waitress or didn't have a car. I think because I was eating heavy and not exercising led to the diabetes as well as a pill I take that causes high sugar counts. Report
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