Researchers at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta studied data from 25,513 adults aged 35 to 65.
They found that never smoking, having a body mass index lower than 30, doing physical activity for at least three and a half hours per week, and following a healthy diet, reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 93 percent.
These four factors also showed 81 percent reduced risk of heart attack, 50 percent reduced risk of stroke and 36 percent reduced risk of cancer.
"This research confirms what we already know – a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight is the key to reducing the risk of long term health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes," said Pav Kalsi, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.
"The current obesity crisis in the UK is directly causing a huge surge in the number of people with Type 2 diabetes. At time of diagnosis, around 80 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese so there is a very clear link between the two.
Diabetes UK recommends that people eat a healthy, balanced diet which is low in fat, salt and sugar and includes plenty of fruit and vegetables and do at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week."
The study is by published in the Archives of Internal Medicines.