On this page

Reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes

Family eating breakfast
On this page

Simple lifestyle changes can help to reduce your chance of developing type 2. One of the best ways to reverse or reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes is to eat healthily, stay active and maintain a healthy weight.

Who’s at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?

There are a number of risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes. While there are some that you have no control over, there are others, such as being overweight, which you can manage.

You are more likely to develop diabetes if one or more of the following applies to you:

  • You're white and over 40 years old
  • You're African-Caribbean, black African or South Asian and over 25 years old
  • You have a family history of type 2 diabetes. This could be your mother, father, brother, sister or own child who has been diagnosed with diabetes
  • You're overweight
  • You have an increased waist measurement
  • You have high blood pressure, heart disease or have had a heart attack or stroke

If your parent, brother, sister or child has it, you’re between two and six times more likely to get diabetes. If you’re of South Asian, African-Caribbean or black African descent, you’re between two to four times more likely to get diabetes.

Ways to eat well

Everyone should aim to eat a healthy diet, but it’s particularly important if you’re at risk of diabetes. Eating healthy isn’t always easy, especially if you’re short of time.

Here are some easy ways to start:

  • Swap your next chocolate bar or bag of crisps with something healthier, like low-sugar alternatives, fruit or low-calorie popcorn.
  • Try to cut down on sugary drinks, including alcoholic ones. Try water with a slice of lemon or lime instead.
  • Eat less fried and fatty foods. If you are using spreads or oils, choose ones high in monounsaturated fat like olive oil.
  • Choose a leaner cut of your favourite meat or try a leaner meat. You could also try grilling rather than frying.
  • Try to have breakfast every morning, if you’re pushed for time try to prepare something the night before, or that you can eat on the go.

Get active

The gym isn’t the only way you can get active. It’s easier to incorporate into your daily schedule so why not try the following?

Here are some easy ways to start:

  • Try swapping your car for your bike when commuting to work; it’s a great way to exercise while also avoiding rush-hour traffic. If you live too far away from work to cycle, why not try parking your car 15 minutes away and power walking into the office.
  • Rather than eating lunch at your desk, why not use your time to get some exercise in. You could even get a group together to go out walking.
  • Swap going to the cinema or a meal out with a brisk walk around the park.
  • Try to reach a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. Try a fitness tracker to help you measure your progress.

Top tips for healthy weight loss

Most of us know the basics of losing weight, you try to eat more healthily and ideally get exercise. But sometimes that isn’t always easy, especially if we live a busy life. Here are 5 tips from the NHS on how to lose weight healthily:

  1. Don’t skip breakfast – even though you would be eating less, skipping breakfast could mean you’re missing out on essential nutrients and might be more tempted to reach for the snacks throughout the day.
  2. Eat plenty of fruit and veg – Fruit and veg tend to be low in calories and fat, as well as high in fibre as well as containing many essential vitamins and minerals. If you do want a snack between meals, try to make sure it’s fruit or vegetables such as carrot sticks.
  3. Make sure to drink plenty of water – It can be easy to confuse thirst with hunger, so make sure you drink plenty throughout the day.
  4. Use a smaller plate – When you serve food on a large plate, you might want to fill it. So try serving standard size portions of a smaller plate than you’re used to. This will help you get used to eating smaller potions, without going hungry.
  5. Don’t ban foods – As soon as you ban foods from your plan, it will make you think about them more. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the occasional treat, as long as you’re eating a health balanced diet.