Programs & Services

About Diabetes: Diabetes Prevention

Are you at Risk?
Screening Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes
Can diabetes be prevented?
Diabetes Prevention Activities in the RQHR

Are You at Risk?

Risk factors for developing diabetes include the following:

  • Age 40 or older
  • A member of a high-risk ethnic group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent)
  • Overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle)
    Having a history of:
  • A parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • Giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 4 kg (9 lb) at birth
  • Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG) may mean you are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
    Several other health problems are often associated with type 2 diabetes including:
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
If you have any of these conditions, talk to your doctor about your risk of type 2 diabetes. 60% of people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure.

Screening Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes

Knowing your risk factors and being screened for type 2 diabetes is important.

Beginning at age 40, you should be screened every three years. Usually screening is done using a blood test called fasting blood glucose (sugar).

If you have any of the risk factors or associated health problems listed above, you may need to be screened more often or starting at a younger age.

Can diabetes be prevented?

Although type 2 diabetes tends to run in families, scientists believe that lifestyle and type 2 diabetes are closely linked. Changes in lifestyle may help prevent or delay the onset of the condition. A healthy meal plan, weight control, physical activity and stress reduction are important prevention steps.

Changes in lifestyle, including a low-calorie, low fat diet and moderate-intensity physical activity of at least 150 minutes/week can result in weight loss and reduce the progression to type 2 diabetes. Moderate intensity physical activity makes the heart rate go up and increases the rate of breathing. Examples might be going for a brisk walk, raking leaves, washing windows or polishing the car. It is recommended that 30 minutes of physical activity be done most days of the week. However it can be broken into 3 ten minute segments. To lose weight usually more than 30 minutes a day is needed.

For a guide to healthy eating follow Canadaís Food Guide to Healthy Eating, making your choices low in fat most of the time. Although all foods fit in a healthy diet, foods that are high in fat, high in sugar and high in sodium, should be eaten only occasionally. Examples of these foods are cookies, chips, fries and regular, sweetened pop.

The effects of stress can be reduced by physical activity, meditation, practising your spiritual beliefs or doing something daily that you enjoy such as listening to music, reading for pleasure, visiting with family and friends, or a hobby. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing can be learned and, if practised regularly, also reduce the effect of stress on the body.

Smoking damages the blood vessels making the heart work harder to move oxygen and food for the cells throughout the body. Smoking causes a variety of chronic diseases. If you smoke, try to quit. Avoid second hand tobacco smoke, because its effects are similar to smoking yourself. To help you quit smoking call the Smokerís Helpline at 1-877-513-5333. For tips and other resources to help you quit smoking click here.

Certain diabetes medications have also been shown to reduce the progression to type 2 diabetes. Please talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

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