Type 2 diabetes prevention
While there are a number of factors that influence the development of type 2 diabetes, it is evident that the most influential are lifestyle behaviours commonly associated with urbanization. These include consumption of unhealthy foods and inactive lifestyles with sedentary behaviour. Randomised controlled trials from different parts of the world, including Finland, USA, China and India, have established the that lifestyle modification with physical activity and/or healthy diet can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Modern lifestyles are characterised by physical inactivity and long sedentary periods. Community-based interventions can reach individuals and families through campaigns, education, social marketing and encourage physical activity both inside and outside school and the workplace. IDF recommends physical activity at least between three to five days a week, for a minimum of 30-45 minutes.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes
Several risk factors have been associated with type 2 diabetes and include:
- Family history of diabetes
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Increasing age
- High blood pressure
- Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)*
- History of gestational diabetes
- Poor nutrition during pregnancy
*Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is a category of higher than normal blood glucose, but below the threshold for diagnosing diabetes.
Changes in diet and physical activity related to rapid development and urbanisation have led to sharp increases in the numbers of people developing diabetes.
Pregnant women who are overweight, have been diagnosed with IGT, or have a family history of diabetes are all at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). In addition, having been previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes or being of certain ethnic groups puts women at increased risk of developing GDM.
Know your risk of type 2 diabetes
Brief questionnaires are simple, practical and inexpensive ways to quickly identify people who may be at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and who need to have their level of risk further investigated.
The Finnish Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Form, developed in 2001, is an example of an effective questionnaire that can be used as the basis for developing national questionnaires which take into account local factors. It has eight scored questions, with the total test score providing a measure of the probability of developing type 2 diabetes over the following 10 years. The reverse of the form contains brief advice on what the respondent can do to lower their risk of developing the disease, and whether they should seek advice or have a clinical examination. The test takes only a couple of minutes to complete and can be done online, in pharmacies or at various public campaign events.
IDF has developed an IDF type 2 diabetes online diabetes risk assessment which aims to predict an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next ten years. The test is based on the Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISC) developed and designed by Adj. Prof Jaana Lindstrom and Prof. Jaakko Tuomilehto from the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.
IDF recommendations for a healthy diet for the general population
- Choosing water, coffee or tea instead of fruit juice, soda, or other sugar sweetened beverages
- Eating at least three servings of vegetable every day, including green leafy vegetables
- Eating up to three servings of fresh fruit every day
- Choosing nuts, a piece of fresh fruit, or unsweetened yoghurt for a snack
- Limiting alcohol intake to a maximum of two standard drinks per day
- Choosing lean cuts of white meat, poultry or seafood instead of red or processed meat
- Choosing peanut butter instead of chocolate spread or jam
- Choosing whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta instead of white bread, rice, or pasta
- Choosing unsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil, corn oil, or sunflower oil) instead of saturated fats (butter, ghee, animal fat, coconut oil or palm oil
A particular threat in terms of the associated risk of developing type 2 diabetes is the consumption of high sugar foods, particularly sugar-sweetened beverages, In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new recommendations to limit sugar intake. IDF fully supports these recommendations and in response published the IDF Framework for Action on Sugar.