Five things you can start doing today to decrease your risk of getting diabetes, which affects one of every 10 Kentuckians

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Diabetes is a real problem in Kentucky and one that is not projected to get any better. You may be at risk of getting it, but there are things you can do to decrease your risk of becoming diabetic.

“Type 2 diabetes is still entirely preventable with certain lifestyle changes,” Dr. Manny Alvarez writes for Fox News. “I always preach to my patients the importance of exercise and diet.”

Kentucky ranks 17th in diabetes. One in 10 adult Kentuckians have been diagnosed with it and 40 percent of Kentuckians age 40-74 have pre-diabetes, according to the state Department for Public Health.

Even more worrying is the 2014 “States of Obesity” report that projects a 51 percent increase of Kentuckians with diabetes by 2030, going from an estimated 400,000 in 2010 to almost 600,000 in 2030.

Alvarez cites a study that identifies five simple habits to cut your risk of developing diabetes by as much as 80 percent:

  1. Have a healthy diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables
  2. Exercise three times a week for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Maintain a normal body weight, which means a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9
  4. Don’t smoke.
  5. Consume alcohol in moderate amounts.

Maintaining a normal body weight is the single most effective factor to prevent getting diabetes, according to the study, Alvarez reports. “Men of normal weight were 70 percent less likely to develop diabetes than overweight or obese men, while normal weight women were 78 percent less likely to develop diabetes.”

But that doesn’t mean overweight people don’t benefit from incorporating these healthy lifestyle changes. “Overweight people who adopted just one of the other healthy lifestyle factors, such as exercising three times a week, could still reduce their risk of diabetes,” Alvarez writes.

These suggestions should offer some hope to Kentuckians as lifestyle changes are things we have some control of and often come at little to no cost.

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