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Learn how to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Although people with diabetes can prevent or delay complications by keeping blood glucose (also called blood sugar) levels close to normal, preventing or delaying the development of type 2 diabetes in the first place is even better. The results of a major federally funded study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, prove that we can prevent or delay the disease. This study of 3,234 people at high risk for diabetes showed that moderate diet and exercise, resulting in a 5- to 7-percent weight loss, can delay and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes.

The study tested three approaches to preventing diabetes: making lifestyle changes, taking a diabetes pill, or following the standard diabetes education approach. People in the lifestyle change group exercised about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, usually by walking, and they lowered their intake of fat and calories. Those who took the diabetes pill metformin received standard information on exercise and diet. These approaches were compared with the third group who only received the standard information on exercise and diet and took a placebo—a pill without medicine in it.

The results showed that people in the lifestyle change group reduced their risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Average weight loss in the first year of the study was 15 pounds. Lifestyle change was even more effective in those 60 years and older. They reduced their risk by 71 percent. People who took metformin and received standard information on exercise and diet reduced their risk by 31 percent.

Even though controlling your weight with lifestyle changes is challenging, it produces long-term health rewards by lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes, lowering your blood glucose levels, and reducing other risk factors for heart disease.

The American Diabetes Association has information on how you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by58% by:

Don't worry if you can't get to your ideal body weight. Losing even 10 to 15 pounds can make a huge difference.