You can do a lot to prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes (“dy-ah-BEE-teez”), including:
- Watching your weight
- Eating healthy
- Staying active
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. If it’s not controlled, diabetes can cause serious health problems.
The good news is that the small steps you take to prevent diabetes can lead to big rewards.
To get started, make your game plan to prevent type 2 diabetes [PDF – 7 MB].
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease. People with diabetes have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood.
Your body depends on glucose for energy. When you eat, the food turns into glucose. Your blood carries the glucose to other parts of your body.
When you have diabetes, your body has trouble turning glucose into energy. Instead of being used by your body, the glucose builds up in your blood. The rest of your body is starved of energy.
Diabetes can’t be cured, but it can be controlled. If it’s not controlled, diabetes can lead to:
- Nerve damage
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
What is type 2 diabetes?
There is more than one type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. People who are overweight are more likely to get type 2 diabetes.
Am I at risk for diabetes?
You may be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are age 40 or older
- Are overweight
- Have a parent or sibling with diabetes
- Are African American, Hispanic or Latino American, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
- Have had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or have had a baby with a birth weight of more than 9 pounds
- Have high blood pressure or cholesterol
- Exercise less than 3 times a week
- Have pre-diabetes
What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes means the amount of glucose in your blood is higher than normal. If you have pre-diabetes, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, like heart disease and stroke. Find out more about pre-diabetes.
What are the signs of diabetes?
Many people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. Some signs of diabetes include:
- Being very thirsty or very hungry
- Feeling tired for no reason
- Urinating (going to the bathroom) more than usual
- Losing weight for no reason
- Having cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
- Having trouble seeing (blurry vision)
- Losing feeling or having tingling in your hands or feet
Not everyone who has diabetes has these signs. If you have any of these signs or think you may be at risk, talk with your doctor about getting tested for diabetes.
Take these steps to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Talk to a doctor about your diabetes risk.
Use this tool to find out if you are at risk for diabetes. Print out the results and take them to your next checkup.
- Ask your doctor or nurse these questions about how to prevent type 2 diabetes.
- If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor or midwife about gestational (“jes-TAY-shon-al”) diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes you can get during pregnancy.
- Ask about diabetes prevention programs near you.
Find out if you need to get tested for diabetes.
If you are at risk for diabetes, ask your doctor about getting tested. People ages 40 to 70 who are overweight or obese need to get tested for diabetes.
Your doctor may also recommend you get tested if you are at risk for other reasons, like having high blood pressure or having family members with type 2 diabetes.
What about cost?
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans cover these services related to diabetes risk:
- Diabetes screening for adults with high blood pressure
- Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan.
For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.
Eating healthy foods can help you control your weight – and prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Choose foods low in fat, cholesterol, and salt. Try these tips to cut down on fat and calories.
Getting active can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking fast or biking.
If you have a health condition or disability, be as active as you can be. Use these tips to stay active with a disability. Your doctor can help you choose the best activities for you.
Watch your weight.
Studies show that losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight can lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. If you weigh 200 pounds, 7 percent of your body weight is 14 pounds.
Try using a notebook or journal to write down:
- Your weight
- All the meals and snacks you eat each day
- The number of calories and grams of fat in your food
- How many minutes of physical activity you do each day
To get started, use this food and activity tracking tool for a week.
Check out these other tips to help you reach a healthy weight.
Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked.
- Starting at age 18, get your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years. It’s important to get your blood pressure checked often, especially if you are over 40 years old.
- Talk to a doctor about getting your cholesterol checked. Most men need their cholesterol checked at least once every 5 years. Women at risk for heart disease need their cholesterol checked every 5 years.