Preventing type 2 diabetes
Around 13.6 million people in the UK are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s a serious condition that can lead to other health problems sometimes called diabetes complications. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes can sometimes be prevented. Research has shown that for some people, a combination of lifestyle changes can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by about 50%. And we’re here to support you to make changes.
How can I lower my chances of developing type 2 diabetes?
You can find out the level of your own risk of type 2 diabetes and what to do to lower it by putting information into our free Know your risk of type 2 diabetes tool and getting the results. It’s free and only takes two or three minutes. You'll need to know your height, weight and waist measurement.
There are some factors that put you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes that you can’t change, such as your age and ethnicity or medical history.
Looking after your weight and being more active makes it easier for your body to manage your blood sugar levels and help prevent insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
A healthy waist size in men is 94 cm (37 inches) or for South Asian men, it’s less than 90 cm (35 inches).
To see if you are a healthy weight, overweight, obese or underweight, use the BMI calculator on the patient.info website.
Getting support to eat healthily or to move more can help you adopt new habits longer term, our research suggests. So speak to your GP to find out about available support or weight management groups in your area. Some people find the support of a partner or family member helpful. You can also chat to a trained advisor on our helpline about making lifestyle changes – or if you have any other questions about diabetes. Call 0345 123 2399.
As you get older, your risk of type 2 diabetes increases, so where possible, it’s best to adopt a healthier lifestyle early on. Type 2 diabetes is more common in people over 40. But if you’re from a Black, African Caribbean or South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi) background, your risk of type 2 diabetes increases once you’re over 25. Find out more about ethnicity and type 2 diabetes.
How can I prevent myself getting type 2 diabetes?
Half of people at risk of type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk or delay the condition developing by eating healthily as well as keeping to a healthy weight and waist size.
Moving more can also help you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Aim to walk quickly or do something else that will get you a little out of breath for 30 minutes, on at least five days of the week. If you’re short of time, do it in three 10-minute slots.
Breaking up long spells of sitting or lying is important as this has also been shown to have an associated risk with type 2 diabetes. So if you’re sitting at a desk or lying down watching TV, for example, make sure you stretch or move often. Get some ideas on our exercise resources page – including seated exercises.
What are three ways to prevent type 2 diabetes?
The three main ways to prevent type 2 diabetes are:
Can type 2 diabetes be prevented?
Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be prevented, because unlike type 1 diabetes which can’t yet be prevented - your body is still making the hormone insulin. And it is the insulin which helps manage blood sugar levels.
Research has shown for some people, getting support to make changes to your lifestyle including healthy eating, moving more and losing weight, can help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about half.
In some cases if you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes losing any excess weight, keeping active and eating healthily, can help your body make more insulin or use the insulin more effectively.