More than 24 million Americans have diabetes; of those, about six million don’t know they have the disease. This difficult disease, once called adult-onset diabetes, is striking an ever-growing number of adults. Even more alarming, it’s now beginning to show up in obese teenagers and children.
Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. About nine cases in 10 could be avoided by taking several simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.
Having excess weight is the single most important cause of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight increases one’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes seven-fold. Being obese makes you 20-40 times more likely to develop diabetes than someone with a healthy weight.
Losing weight can help if your weight is above the healthy-weight range. Losing 7-10% of your current weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.
Inactivity promotes type 2 diabetes. Working your muscles more often and making them work harder improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose. This puts less stress on your insulin-making cells. Long bouts of hot, sweaty exercise aren’t necessary to reap this benefit. Walking briskly for a half hour every day reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30%. Similar diabetes-prevention benefits have been reported for brisk walking of more than five hours per week.
Television-watching is a detrimental form of inactivity: For every two hours spent watching TV instead of pursuing something more active increases the chances of developing diabetes by 20%; it also increases the risk of heart disease (15%) and early death (13%).
Four dietary changes can have a big impact on the risk of type 2 diabetes.
• Choose whole grains and whole grain products over highly processed carbohydrates.
• Skip the sugary drinks, and choose water instead.
• Choose good fats instead of bad fats.
• Limit red meat and avoid processed meat; choose nuts, whole grains, poultry, or fish instead.
Since we know, smokers are roughly 50% more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk. Quitting would be beneficial and decrease the risk of type two diabetes.
The bottom line to preventing type 2 diabetes is to stay lean and stay active.