The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by as much as 80 percent by following a combination of five healthy lifestyle habits, a new analysis shows.
Studies have shown that having a healthy diet, exercising, maintaining normal body weight, abstaining from smoking and consuming alcohol moderately can lower one's risk of developing diabetes and other diseases.
The new analysis from the National Institutes of Health examined these individual factors to see how each, alone and in combination, will be contributing to reduce the chance a person will get the disease. The research will be published in the Sept. 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The analysis has shown that one can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by keeping just one of these five healthy lifestyle factors.
Last year, 26 million Americans were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, making it the most common form of the disease. Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control, it has been found to be the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
The new study, which is the largest of its kind to date, is among the first to explore how several healthy habits combine to affect diabetes risk.
Those who were least likely to receive a diabetes diagnosis shared the following five key health attributes.
Normal weight - They were not overweight or obese, and maintained a body mass index below 25 (a threshold equivalent to 155 pounds for a 5-foot, 6-inch woman).
Nonsmoking - They had never been regular smokers, or they had been smoke-free for at least 10 years.
Physically active - They got at least 20 minutes of heart-pounding, sweat-inducing exercise three or more times per week.
Healthy diet - They consumed a diet with lots of fiber, little trans fat, few refined or sugary carbohydrates, and a high ratio of good (polyunsaturated) to bad (saturated) fats.
Little to no drinking - They used alcohol in moderation, if at all -- two drinks or less a day for men, and one drink or less for women.
The question we were trying to raise is whether there are added benefits to each individual lifestyle improvement you make, and it looks like that answer is definitely yes, said Jared Reis, PhD, the lead author of the study.
Of all five lifestyle factors, being overweight was linked most strongly to diabetes risk.
Diabetes is often called the silent killer because of its easy-to-miss symptoms. The best way to diagnose it is to have a blood sugar test.