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5 ways to cut your risk of diabetes

The older we get, the more likely we are to get diabetes, specifically type 2. Around 1 in 7 older people have diabetes and these numbers are likely to rise.

Although no-one completely understands the causes of diabetes, if you control the risk factors, you can reduce your chances of getting it.

The facts about diabetes

It's estimated that 4.5 million people are living with diabetes in the UK. A further 1.1 million people may have diabetes but haven't been diagnosed.

9 out of 10 of these cases are type 2 diabetes, the preventable form of the condition.

Although we don’t know the causes, there are a number of factors that can increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes, so by taking simple steps, you can lower your chances of getting it.

We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 125 local Age UKs.

1. Lose weight

Quite simply, shedding pounds will drastically reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.

80% of people who have diabetes are overweight, so if you are overweight or obese, it’s time to think about cutting back.

A good measure is your waist size. More than 31.5 inches (80cm) for a woman and 37 inches (94cm) for a man and you need to start thinking about cutting back.

2. Increase your exercise level

It goes without saying that increasing the amount of time you spend exercising will make you feel better and help towards losing weight.

Research has found that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing  by up to 64%, so it is backed up by science.

Talk to your GP for an idea of some suitable exercises for you.

Get tips and advice on increasing your fitness levels

Preventing diabetes

Dr Sarah Jarvis speaks to Nadine about type 2 diabetes and what we could do to help prevent it.

3. Stop smoking

Most people are aware of smoking’s link to cancer, but not as many understand how it’s connected to diabetes.

Smoking has been proven to increase blood pressure levels, which are known to be a major cause of diabetes.

Get more information about smoking

4. Eat healthily

A diet that is low in fat, sugar and salt and contains a lot of fruit and veg will reduce your cholesterol levels – a simple way to reduce your risk of diabetes.

Studies published in 2009 revealed that eating processed meat ups your risk of diabetes by 40% and more recent research has shown that vegetarians are a third less likely to suffer from heart problems, a stroke or diabetes.

For more tips on a healthy diet, look at our healthy eating overview

5. Cut back on alcohol

Drinking alcohol can contribute towards the conditions that cause diabetes.

Booze can increase your chances of putting on weight, as it is essentially empty calories. A pint of beer, for example, can be equivalent to a bar of chocolate.

Heavy drinking can also lead to conditions such as chronic pancreatitis, which has a side-effect of diabetes.

There’s nothing wrong with a little alcohol in moderation, but excessive drinking can definitely lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

What next?

Get checked out: Type 2 diabetes is, by and large, a condition that affects people over the age of 40, so it’s important to get a check up from your doctor.

They can advise what sort of risk you have and what action, if any, you should take.

Get more information about the condition from Diabetes UK

Please help us be there for older people in need

By donating today, you could help us answer more calls to our advice line, campaign harder for older people’s rights and fair treatment and provide regular friendship calls to people who are desperately lonely.

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Last updated: Apr 28 2022

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