Reduce your diabetes risk

Type 2 diabetes is often linked to being overweight. That means there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it.

Around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. If you maintain a healthy weight, you can reduce your risk of developing the condition.

If you think that you may already have symptoms of diabetes, see your GP.

There are no lifestyle changes that can lower your risk of type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes and your weight

If you are overweight or obese, you're at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

You can find out if you're a healthy weight by calculating your BMI using our healthy weight calculator

BMI and diabetes risk

For most people in the UK, if your BMI is 25 or above, you are in the overweight range, while a BMI of 30 or above puts you in the obese range.

However, some groups have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than white populations.

These groups are advised to maintain a BMI lower than the standard 25. The advice is:

  • Asians with a BMI score of 23 or more are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 
  • Asians with a BMI of 27.5 or more are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Although the evidence is less clear-cut, black people and other minority groups are also advised to maintain a BMI below 25, to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.

Your waist and diabetes risk

BMI isn't the only important measurement when it comes to your diabetes risk. Your waistline may also indicate that you're carrying extra body fat, and are therefore at risk.

  • All women have an increased risk of diabetes if their waist measures more than 80cm (31.5 inches).
  • White or black men have an increased risk if their waist measures more than 94cm (37 inches).
  • Asian men have an increased risk if their waist measures more than 90cm (35 inches).

Find out more about why waist size is important and how to measure it accurately.

If you lose excess weight, you'll lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.

The healthy way to lose weight

healthy diet and physical activity are the key to a healthy weight, but that doesn't have to mean going on a strict diet and spending hours at the gym.

Find out more about losing weight the healthy way and start today. 

Causes of diabetes you can't control

A number of other risk factors can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, most of which can't be controlled.

These include:

  • being over 40, or over 25 if you're black or south Asian
  • having a close family member (parent, brother or sister) who has type 2 diabetes
  • being south Asian or African-Caribbean; these ethnic groups are five times more likely to get type 2 diabetes
  • having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), especially if you're also overweight
  • having had gestational diabetes (diabetes that lasts for the duration of a pregnancy)
  • having impaired fasting glycaemia or impaired glucose tolerance, sometimes referred to as pre-diabetes

If you have any of these risk factors, you should maintain a healthy weight to ensure that your risk of diabetes doesn't increase further.

Find out more about the causes of type 2 diabetes.

Page last reviewed: 21/11/2016

Next review due: 21/11/2019

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