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5 ways to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes

The older we get, the more likely we are to get type 2 diabetes. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. 

There are some risk factors that we can't control – such as age, ethnicity and family history. But with lifestyle changes, around 50% of cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. 

Lose weight

People who are obese or overweight are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, it's the most significant risk factor.

A good measure is your waist size – if your waist measures more than 31.5 inches (80cm) for a woman and 37 inches (94cm) for a man, you may want to think about ways you can lose weight to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

This can be managed through diet or physical activity – or a combination of both of these. There are support options available to help. It's important that you lose weight in a healthy way that works for you. 

Increase your physical activity levels

Increasing the amount of time you spend being physically active will make you feel better and help towards losing weight.

Being more active doesn't always have to mean working up a sweat – it's about moving more each day in whatever way works for you, whether this means simple chair-based exercises, walking more, or taking up an exercise class. Make any changes realistic, and make sure to ask for help if you need it. 

You could talk to your GP to get an idea of what exercises would be suitable for you. 

Find out more about getting and staying active as you get older

Preventing diabetes

Dr Sarah Jarvis speaks to Nadine about type 2 diabetes and what we could do to help prevent it.

Stop smoking

Most people are aware of how smoking increases your risk of developing certain cancers, but fewer people understand how smoking is connected to diabetes.

It's been proven that people who smoke are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And, if you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you smoke, then you're more at risk of developing complications, and it might make your condition harder to manage. 

Find out more about smoking and the support available to help you quit

Healthy eating

A diet that's low in fat, sugar and salt and contains lots of fruits and vegetables will reduce your cholesterol levels and can support you in losing weight. 

Changes to your diet aren't always easy to start or maintain – it's more realistic to make small changes over time rather than all at once. 

Find out more about healthy eating and how to eat well

Cut back on alcohol

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

It can also increase your chances of gaining weight and can make losing weight more difficult – and being obese or overweight increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. 

There’s nothing wrong with a little alcohol in moderation, but it's important to avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or drinking on a very regular basis. 

What should I do next?

Type 2 diabetes mostly affects people over the age of 40, so it’s important to get a check-up from your doctor if you think you might have diabetes. Your doctor will be able to advise you on your level of risk and what action, if any, you should take. 

Diabetes UK has an online risk assessment tool that you can use to check your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Find out more and use the online tool here

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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