Health Focus: Diabetes Prevention

Diabetes Prevention


Diabetes has become a national epidemic.  One in three American adults are at risk of developing this serious disease.  Some of the factors that increase one’s risk for diabetes are a family history of Type 2 diabetes, being overweight and getting physical activity less than three times a week.  Individuals with fasting blood glucose levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL have prediabetes.  Many people with prediabetes who do not lose weight and do moderate physical activity will develop Type 2 diabetes within three years.

The good news is that you can prevent Type 2 diabetes.  Research shows that people who are at risk of developing diabetes can make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.  Losing five to seven percent of your body weight can cut your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in half.  That is about 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.  Weight loss is only one of the major lifestyle changes that can help prevent diabetes.  Getting 150 minutes of physical activity a week can also help to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes.  You can break the 150 minutes into 30 minutes five days a week.  Those 30 minutes can be an accumulation of two 15-minute or three 10-minute bursts of physical activity, such as walking.

Portion sizes is the first step to a healthy diet and can help with weight loss and blood sugar control.  Divide your plate into half.  Fill one-half of your plate with one-third fruit and two-thirds vegetables with a balance of non-starchy and starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, salad and zucchini compared to the starchy vegetables like corn, peas and potatoes. Fill one-quarter of your plate with grains (brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and bread).  Fill the remaining one-quarter of your plate with lean protein foods such as chicken, fish, lean beef or pork and eggs.  Add a serving of low-fat dairy, nonfat milk or yogurt, to balance out your meal.  Choose healthy fats in small amounts.

Modest lifestyle changes can make a difference in your health and may prevent Type 2 diabetes.


Article Contributed by:

Lisa McCoy is the Washington, Allegany and Garrett county agent at the University of Maryland Extension. She is a licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and a Master Trainer for the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-management and Diabetes Self-management programs. Additionally, she has 20 years of experience in public health nutrition with a focus on diabetes prevention and management, wellness programs and weight management.