How you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Even if you have been told you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or if you have pre-diabetes, you can reduce your risk and prevent or delay diabetes developing.  

The two most important ways you can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes are:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • staying active

You can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing 5 – 10% of your body weight. That means losing 5 - 10 kg if you currently weigh 100kg.  

Many people achieve this by reducing their meal portions size and choosing healthier foods with less added saturated fat and sugar.  

Your GP will be able to refer you to a dietitian who will work with you to set goals to achieve realistic weight loss. If you don’t see your GP or make changes to your lifestyle you could develop type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a very serious disease but it is preventable, even if you have risk factors for developing it.

Diabetes New Zealand has many resources that can help you to make good choices for your health.

Staying active through physical activity has many benefits. Staying active:

  • can help you to lose weight
  • can reduce your risk of diabetes even without losing weight
  • makes your heart healthier
  • can make you sleep better and improve your mood

But it can be hard to get started with a physical activity routine, especially if you have not done any exercise for a while. Start slowly, aiming to build up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. This doesn’t need to be all in one go - maybe three brisk walks of 10 minutes each might be more manageable.  

Walking, swimming, cycling, mowing the lawn and cleaning the house all count! Council swimming pools and gyms have exercise classes and options to help motivate you with your physical activity.  

To help you to become more physically active, your GP or public nurse can prescribe you a Green Prescription. A Green Prescription is a health professional's written advice to a patient to be physically active, as part of the patient's health management. It's a smart and cost-effective way to help people stay healthy.

Anyone interested in increasing their physical activity can go on the Green Prescription programme. Find a Green Prescription contact in your area.