Minimising the risk
While we can’t do anything about certain risk factors such as genetics, age or ethnicity, carrying extra weight is a significant risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.
“Diabesity is on the increase worldwide because of a combination of sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary choices,” says Veronique Droulez, senior nutrition manager at Meat & Livestock Australia. “It is difficult to separate the one from the other and both probably contribute to increased risk in different ways.”
Studies show that making lifestyle changes can prevent up to 80 per cent of cases of Type 2 diabetes, and risk can also be reduced by up to 60 per cent after making some basic lifestyle changes. In fact, if you’re overweight, every kilogram you lose could reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by up to 15 per cent.
Eating regular meals to keep your bloodglucose levels stable, making sure you have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, limiting unhealthy snacks and processed foods high in salt, sugar or saturated fat will also help reduce your risk of getting the disease.
“If you’re overweight or obese, I would recommend losing weight by following an energy-restricted diet and increasing physical activity to at least one hour a day,” says Veronique. “Once weight is lost, it’s critical to maintain a healthy weight. The Diogenes study [a large European study] found that a higher protein, low-GI diet was the most effective for maintaining weight loss.”
Put simply, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabesity, or if you’re worried you may be at risk, maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is the best chance you have to prolong your life.