What Are the Best Steps to Take for Diabetes Prevention?

Maintaining a healthy weight is a major step in diabetes prevention. If the person you're caring for is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, you can help him stave off the chronic condition by supporting him in making healthy food choices, helping him lose weight if necessary, and encouraging him to stay active.

People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes. Carrying excess weight around the waist rather than the hips also increases the risk. Talk to the doctor about a healthy target weight and whether losing weight would help the person you're caring for prevent type 2 diabetes.

There are essentially two components to losing weight: Eat less and move more.

  • Eat right. Start by making smart choices on the food front. That means eating lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, and going easy on the fats and sweet treats. Losing weight with an eye toward diabetes prevention means not just taking in fewer calories, but making those calories count in terms of nutritional value.
  • Get active. Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Physical activity increases the body's ability to store and use glucose. It also helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy and enables the person you're caring for to maintain a healthy weight -- and lose some pounds if he needs to.

Even modest weight loss -- just 5 or 10 pounds -- can dramatically lower a person's chances of getting this lifelong disease, because extra weight makes it harder for the body to use insulin.

Sarah Henry

Sarah Henry has covered health stories for most of her more than two decades as a writer, from her ten-year stint at the award-winning Center for Investigative Reporting to her staff writer position with Hippocrates magazine to her most recent Web work for online sites, including WebMD, Babycenter. See full bio