8 ways to avoid Diabetes

  1. What is diabetes like?
  2. Your own risk of getting diabetes?
  3. Eight steps to prevent diabetes.     

    [Time to read: 8 mins]

1. What is diabetes like?

Want to know more about what it is like to get everlasting diabetes?  Watch video stories of people like you getting diabetes. Almost 9% of adults in England have it, that is 1 adult in every 11 [Evidence ref. no. 28].

2. Your own risk of getting diabetes?


Check your own risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, in next 10 years, or the risks of ones you love. Could do it now, using UK research [28]. Takes 3 minutes. 

9 out of every 10 of us with diabetes have Type 2. (I am one of the other 1 in 10 who has Type 1).

Other things increase your risk of diabetes [3, 9]. These include:

  • Having a close family member (parent, brother or sister) with Type 2 diabetes
  • Being of South Asian or African-Caribbean background – these ethnic groups are twice as likely to get diabetes [28]
  • Having had a heart attack or a stroke
  • Having had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

The more of these risk things you have, the more likely you are to get diabetes [3].

3. Eight ways to avoid diabetes     

  • Way 1. Have a look at the UK NHS on causes of diabetes, and how to prevent it.
  • Way 2. If you are at risk, ask your GP if you can join the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, launched by Public Health England, with NHS England and charity Diabetes UK. This helps people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes reduce their risk by improving their diet, drinking less alcohol, losing weight, more regular exercise and drugs if needed.
  • video camera Way 3. Watch Pam Cleavely’s NHS Video story, about when she was on the way to getting diabetes, and how the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme can help people avoid Type 2 diabetes.
  • Way 4. As the World Health Organisation says, “Effective ways are available to prevent Type 2 diabetes and to prevent complications and early death. Actions that contribute to good health for everyone: exercise regularly, eat healthily, avoid smoking, control blood pressure and control cholesterol” [27]. Starting earlier is easier than later!
big balloon over landscape
Hot Air Balloon Flying

Way 5. You may already have ‘prediabetes‘, as 1 in 3 adults in England does [19]. This is your chance to prevent you getting diabetes later.
Like to take the USA Prediabetes Risk Test? 7 questions. Less than 1 minute.

If you are at high risk of prediabetes, ask your GP for a blood test (OGTT). If you have it, use it to prevent yourself going on to get diabetes. If you get your prediabetes diagnosed early in the 5 years or so that you have it, you have a good chance to avoid getting diabetes. This means changing your ‘Lifestyle‘ [3, 9], supported by drugs if needed. So use it or lose it!

overweight person eating
fat person with large bun

Way 6. Type 2 diabetes is often linked to being overweight (with a lot of body fat) [9, 10]. Also a big risk for heart and stroke diseases. Are you overweight? Look at the  NHS weight chart to find out, and their simple tips to lose weight. Try the NHS weight loss plan?  

Way 7. The new USA Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline, published on 23 March 2019, brought together a group of their experts to address how best to prevent diabetes in adults aged 65 years and older, using latest research [?]. For all people aged 65 years and older without known diabetes, they recommend:

  • Ask your GP for a fasting plasma glucose and/or HBA1c screening, to test for diabetes or prediabetes (2.1). Their writing committee advocates repeat screening every 2 years thereafter.
  • For those who are found to have prediabetes, they recommend obtaining a 2-hour glucose post oral glucose tolerance test measurement (2.2). This is most important for high-risk patients with any of the following: overweight, close relative with diabetes, high risk family background, e.g. South Asian, African, Latino, native American, Pacific islander.
  • For those who have prediabetes they recommend a lifestyle programme similar to the NHS diabetes prevention programme to delay progression to diabetes (2.3). Metformin can be used for some people at high risk for diabetes prevention in the UK, but is not suitable for some other people. In the USA it is not yet approved by the FDA.
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hand points..

Way 8. Actions? If you think you may already have prediabetes, or are at risk of it, or think you have symptoms of diabetes, get your GP to test you.  Decide with your GP on changes in your lifestyle. Put them in your own health plan.

page updated 14 May 2020.  © 2020 social enterprise Diabetes-cutmyrisks.co.uk.™ Ltd.

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