Prevention of Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes kit bags are useful for carrying your diabetes equipment on the move
Lifestyle is a major component to preventing type 2 diabetes

When people talk about prevention of diabetes, it is usually about preventing type 2 diabetes. In the majority of cases, type 2 diabetes is brought on by lifestyle factors which can often be prevented.

These include an unbalanced diet, a lack of activity along with smoking and alcohol.

By making lifestyles changes, one can help to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes prevention overview

There are a number of risk factors for diabetes, some of which are preventable, such as weight gain around the middle (central obesity), high cholesterol/triglyceride levels and high blood pressure.

You can read more about the most common risk factors of type 2 diabetes.

Losing weight, adopting more activity into your day, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol intake can all help to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Exercise to prevent type 2 diabetes

Exercise can help to prevent diabetes in a number of ways.

The energy needed for exercise can help people to lose weight which helps to take some of the risk related to central obesity.

Exercise is known to increase insulin sensitivity which is essentially helps to tackle the root cause of type 2 diabetes.

Also, regular exercise can also help to reduce cholesterol levels and help people to reduce high blood pressure.

Even a little extra activity each day can help. Some basic steps can really help to make a difference if they become a regular habit, such as walking to the shops rather using the car or getting off the bus a stop early.


When people talk about preventing diabetes it generally refers to prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Central obesity, weight gain around your middle, is strongly associated with development of type 2 diabetes.

A suitable diet for avoiding type 2 diabetes will typically be:

  • Based around vegetables
  • Relatively high in fibre
  • Free from refined carbohydrates
  • Free from processed foods

Physical activity can help to keep the body’s hormones in good working order. It’s recommended to include 30 minutes of physical activity within each day.

It is recommended to quit smoking and cut down on alcohol to improve your health. Higher intakes of alcohol are known to cause fat to be deposited around the waist, particularly in men, which then raises the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Genetic factors are also responsible for an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Keeping to a healthy lifestyle won’t be able to change your genes but could help to offset the genetic risk.

Type 1 diabetes is a different condition to type 2 diabetes and the causes are not yet well understood. Currently there are no prevention guidelines for type 1 diabetes.

Diet and preventing type 2 diabetes

Diet is another key lifestyle change but one which can present a lot of confusion for people with diabetes. One of the key messages is that one should try to have a balanced diet, however, this can in itself be confusing.

One way to look at the balance is to see which are the dietary factors that lead to diabetes and which are the ones that help to prevent diabetes.

Saturated fat, simple carbohydrates (such as white bread, white flour, pastries), sugars and salt all help to contribute to diabetes if taken in excess.

On the other side of the balance are the beneficial nutrients which, as a population we tend not to get enough of, such as fibre and omega 3 and omega 6 (monounsaturated) fats.

Medication to help prevent diabetes

Some medication, such as metformin, has been shown to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes amongst particularly high-risk cases where lifestyles interventions alone may not be enough.

Prevention of pre-diabetes

Pre-diabetes, as the name suggests, is a precursor to type 2 diabetes and therefore the same prevention strategies for preventing type 2 diabetes are applicable for prediabetes.

Prevention of type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune condition.

For this reason, it is not directly preventable.

Pancreatic cell destruction remains confusing for medical science and although patients with type 1 diabetes may be identified based on risk factors and other markers, a system of type 1 diabetes mellitus prevention has not yet been identified.