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Chow Line: Take steps to prevent diabetes
Posting Date: 11/14/2011

My father and two of my grandparents suffered from type 2 diabetes. I'm concerned that I might be susceptible. What can I do, besides keeping my weight under control, to help prevent it?

It sounds like you're already on the right track to keep on top of the issue. Both obesity and a family history of diabetes are risk factors for developing the disease -- the fact that you realize this is a good sign.

If you're not already doing so, work with your health care provider to make sure your blood sugar level stays in the normal range -- below 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) in a fasting plasma glucose test. If your level is between 100 and 125 mg/dl, you've got a condition called "pre-diabetes" that indicates your body is starting to have trouble getting glucose out of the bloodstream, where it can be harmful. A blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or above after an eight-hour fast indicates you have diabetes.

Keeping your weight under control is a big factor in reducing your risk of diabetes, but don't despair if you're overweight or obese. Small steps can make a big difference. Studies show that people can reduce their risk by losing just 5 to 7 percent of their body

weight -- that's 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.

Keeping active is an important factor, too. Research indicates that being physically active for 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day for five days, for example), can reduce your risk.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionsays that following the above recommendations of modest weight loss and keeping physically active reduces or delays the development of type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent. Among adults age 60 and older, the reduction was even greater -- 71 percent. That's significant.

You'll likely be seeing more and more about diabetes prevention and control. The CDC estimates that diabetes currently affects more than 8 percent of the U.S. population -- about one-fourth don't even know they have it. But if current trends continue, as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050.

The concern is real. Uncontrolled diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It's the leading cause of kidney failure, new cases of blindness among adults under age 75, and non-injury leg and foot amputations among adults. The total costs of diabetes are estimated at $174 billion annually.

Learn more about preventing and controlling diabetes from the National Diabetes Education Program at


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