How can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

Coliseum Medical Centers
Some types of diabetes can be prevented. In this video, Carole Radney, RN, of Coliseum Medical Centers, discusses how patients at risk for diabetes can work to delay or prevent onset of the disease.
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through diet and exercise. When researchers tried to test the theory that physical activity and diet programs could prevent and/or control type 2 diabetes, they found that studies presented “strong evidence of effectiveness” of diet and exercise to prevent type 2 diabetes,and that the regimen was superior to the usual care given to people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Specifically, the recommendations were that people receive:
  • at least three months of working directly with qualified trainers
  • dedicated counseling, coaching and support
  • sessions on how to change diet and increase physical activity
  • sessions delivered in person or via email or online, or all of these
If you have type 2 diabetes or suspect you may be prediabetic, ask your doctor about an exercise and diet regimen based on these recommendations.
William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Yes. No. Maybe. It depends on who you ask. But whether or not it is preventable, the trajectory of the disease can be easily influenced by your actions.

Type-2 is a disease process with a genetic basis that requires a trigger. In the simplest possible terms, the underlying disease is your mother’s fault, but when you get it is up to you.

T-2 is triggered by age, weight, or a magic combination of the two. So if you are pre-disposed to get T-2, it will likely manifest when you are either old enough or heavy enough. The age of forty used to be the commonest age. Now that people are getting heavier earlier in life, we notice that the average age at diagnosis is getting younger and younger.

Neither age nor weight alone is enough to cause the diabetes, your body needs to be set up for it. A family history of diabetes is the best indicator of a likely pre-disposition, but lack of a family history of diabetes does not guarantee you are in the clear, as every human is a unique mix of genes from both sides of their family.

As to prevention: for the sake of argument, let’s assume you do have a family history. Frankly, you have a very good chance of getting diabetes. However, the healthier you keep your weight, the older you’ll be before it develops. This is much easier said than done, as the same genes that set you up for diabetes are the also the same ones that make it easy to put weight on and make it hard to keep weight off. Bummer.

So keeping trim is a real challenge for people with Type-2 genes, but making a good effort, and avoiding a lot of empty carbs (such as sodas, excessive sweets, and too many doughnuts and the like) can go a long way to helping push back or prevent the onset of diabetes. And the earlier you start the more likely you will succeed. When your blood sugar starts getting wacky is not the time to start thinking about your diet.

If you have diabetes, or are starting to develop it, your children are at risk too. Even if it is “too late” for you, getting your kids started on life-long healthy eating habits is the single best thing you can do for them.

Recent research has suggested that shedding some excess weight, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced, high-fiber, healthy diet may be the best strategy to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A landmark study by the Diabetes Prevention Program of more than 3,000 individuals with prediabetes showed that those who made changes in their lifestyle, such as losing weight, exercising 2.5 hours a week, eating a plant-based, heart-healthy diet, and meeting with a health professional for ongoing support and education, were 58% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who did not partake in the intervention.

When it comes to winning the battle against diabetes, a healthful diet and lifestyle is the best game plan.

Yes! The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to be fit and to maintain a healthy weight. Okay, that’s a lot easier said than done. However, knowing it can be done is encouraging!
Studies show that people at high risk for diabetes may be able to prevent diabetes with weight loss, healthy eating, and exercise.
One of the most famous studies that looked at the prevention of type 2 diabetes is called the Diabetes Prevention Plan study or DPP. Scientists studied whether changing lifestyle habits, such as choosing healthier foods and physical activity, or taking diabetes medication could delay or prevent type 2 diabetes in people at high risk for the disease. The study ended a year early, when scientists discovered some amazing results!
DPP Study Results
  • People who lost about 7% of their body weight through eating well and increasing their physical activity (30 minutes a day five times a week) had a 58% lower incidence of diabetes than people who took a placebo (dummy pill).
  • People in the study who took the diabetes medication metformin had 31% lower incidence of diabetes than people who took a placebo.
Find out if you are at risk for prediabetes or diabetes at
If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, such as being overweight or having a family history of diabetes, there is a silver lining. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes can be prevented. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, or are at risk for developing diabetes, you can significantly lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Studies show that people have delayed or prevented the onset of type 2 diabetes by losing 5%-7% of their body weight through diet and exercise.

Continue Learning about Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.