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Think you're at risk of diabetes? Here's what you can do now.

Of the more than 30 million Americans who have diabetes, about 7 million don't even know it yet.1 If you think you might be at risk of diabetes, either because someone in your family has type 2 diabetes, you're carrying too much weight or you've been told you have "prediabetes," it's best to find out now, while you can take steps to prevent the disease from developing.

In fact, research has shown that up to three in five people at risk of diabetes may be able to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing weight, eating better and increasing physical activity.2 That means there are steps you can take today to take charge of your own future health.

Step up physical activity

Finding ways to sit less and get more active can have a wide range of positive impacts on your health and well-being. Getting moving is good for helping lower you blood sugar levels, improve your heart health and lose weight.3 Exercise can also help you sleep better and deal with stress.4

Look for ways to eat better

It's true that for many people, changing eating habits can be the most challenging part of improving their health.3 The way to successfully change the way you eat is to take small steps and keep enjoying the foods you love. You may find that smaller portions of the same foods, adding vegetables and fruits to every meal, or substituting low-fat or high-fiber ingredients can make an important difference.
People sometimes think that there are foods people with diabetes can't eat, or that there's a specific "diabetes diet" to follow. That's just not the case. Anything can be enjoyed in moderation, and a good eating plan should reflect your individual lifestyle and preferences.3

Lose weight, if necessary

Being overweight or obese can contribute to insulin resistance, a condition in which your body can't use insulin properly, so your body can't move glucose out of your blood efficiently. Studies have shown, however, that even modest, sustained weight loss can reduce insulin resistance and the need for diabetes medications.3 

Other risk factors

Your genetic makeup—if you have an immediate relative with diabetes, or you're of African, Hispanic or Latino, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent—can put you at higher risk of diabetes. Your risk rises with age. And men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women.3 But those are things you can't control. So why not talk to your doctor and improve the things you can?

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1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017.  Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/basics/cdc-statistics-report-2017.pdf. Accessed June 25, 2018.

2Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or Metformin. N Engl J Med. 2002;346:393‒403 Available at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa012512. Accessed June 25, 2018.

3American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes—2018 [position statement]. Diabetes Care. 2018;41(1): S1-S172. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/suppl/2017/12/08/41.Sup.... Accessed June 25, 2018.

4Mayo Clinic. Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/.... Accessed June 25, 2018.

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