Dodging Diabetes: Power of Prevention

The Reality

  • In the Diabetes Prevention Program, modest weight loss proved effective in preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes in all groups at high risk for the disease.
  • Weight management is an urgent public health issue, with more than 66 percent of U.S. adults either overweight or obese. Health improvements in chronic disease risk factors can be realized with as little as a two to three percent reduction in excess body weight.

Activity: What Should I Do Now?

One of the risk factors for developing diabetes is being overweight. To keep your weight in check, it is important to be physically active and eat a healthy diet. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults participate in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity to prevent significant weight gain and reduce associated chronic disease risk factors. For most adults, this amount of physical activity can be easily achieved in 30 minutes per day, five days per week. ACSM also recommends strength training as part of this activity regimen, in order to increase lean body mass and further reduce health risks.

One hundred and fifty minutes of activity each week may sound like a lot of time, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week—you can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. As long as you’re doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least ten minutes at time. Try going for a ten-minute brisk walk, three times a day, five days a week.

Nutrition: What Should I Eat Now?

Healthy eating helps keep your blood sugar level in balance and your weight in a healthy range. To help you prevent diabetes, it is important to incorporate a healthy eating plan.

Tips for making healthier food choices:

  • Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose whole grain foods—whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal, brown rice and cereals.
  • Lighten your recipes by using fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise. Use cooking spray instead of oil.
  • Avoid getting too hungry by eating a healthy snack between meals.
  • Do not keep chips, cookies or candy in your home. Instead have raw vegetables, fruit, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, or a handful of nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

A healthy eating plan is one that:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
  • Is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
  • Balances calorie intake with calorie needs.

Next Steps

When making healthier lifestyle choices it is recommended that you work on making one small change at a time. If you try to change too much at once, it is easy to get frustrated and revert back to old habits. Pick one new healthy habit to try each week. For example, this week work on eating five fruits and vegetables every day; and next week work on cutting back on drinking regular soda. You are more likely to be successful at making small changes, helping you stay motivated and maintain your healthy habits.

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Source: American College of Sports Medicine and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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