Health Advocate Blog

Top tips to reduce your diabetes risk

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not properly use glucose (blood sugar) for energy. Normally, your body makes a hormone called insulin that helps the glucose enter cells to be used for energy. With type 2 diabetes, the body can’t use the insulin properly. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood and, if left untreated, can lead to serious health problems. While diabetes can be hereditary, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Changing these lifestyle factors can help you lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and also help you be healthier in general.

Why should I be concerned about having diabetes?

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. Over time, diabetes can lead to:

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease and other cardiovascular issues
  • Eye problems, including blindness
  • Foot ulcers and amputations
  • Nerve damage
  • Complicated infections

What are the risk factors of diabetes?

  • Parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Age 45 or older
  • African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Pacific Island or Asian American
  • Prediabetes
  • Personal history of gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds
  • Body mass index (BMI) is between 25 (or 23 if Asian) and 29 or greater than 30
  • Physically active less than 3 times a week

Assess your risk for diabetes with help from the American Diabetes Association’s Risk Test.

Visit to take a brief test that will help you understand your risk.

Staying on top of your health is key!

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and losing 5-7% of your body weight if your BMI is high can reduce your chance of developing diabetes
  • Be active. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, 5 days per week. Talk to your doctor first if you are new to exercise.
  • Keep moving as much as you can and reduce your time spent sitting
  • Eat healthy. Choose balanced meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods. Eat consistent, moderate amounts of food at regular intervals. Limit added sugars and processed foods
  • Quit tobacco. People who quit smoking reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 40%!

If you already have type 2 diabetes, controlling your blood sugar through diet and exercise can help reduce your symptoms and may slow the disease’s progression.