October 2011

Five Lifestyle Factors Lower Diabetes Risk

A new study found that a combination of 5 healthy lifestyle factors may help reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, even if family history puts you at risk for the disease.

People with diabetes have too high levels of glucose, a type of sugar, in their blood. Over time, high levels of glucose can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness and other problems.

Several lifestyle factors can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. A research team led by Dr. Jared Reis of NIH studied 5 factors: having a healthy diet, keeping an ideal body weight, being physically active, not smoking and minimizing alcohol use.

The team used data collected in the mid-1990s from more than 200,000 older adults. They then looked to see who had developed diabetes over the next decade.

The analysis showed that the more healthy lifestyle factors adopted, the lower the risk for diabetes. Men with all 5 healthy lifestyle factors had a 72% lower risk for developing diabetes. Women had an 84% lower risk.

A family history of diabetes is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes. But these results show that you may still be able to prevent or delay the disease by leading a healthy lifestyle.

“Not being overweight or obese led to the greatest protection,” Reis says. “However, we found that overweight or obese adults with a greater number of the other healthy lifestyle factors had a lower risk of developing diabetes. This is good news because it suggests that overweight or obese adults can benefit by adopting other healthy lifestyle behaviors.”