Diabetes is the fastest-growing chronic health condition in Australia – but with 58 per cent of cases considered preventable, it’s worth exploring the key changes that can make a big difference.
Type 2 diabetes can often be delayed and avoided with the right prevention plan, which is why we’ve asked HBF’s own Dr. Andy to share five lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of diabetes.
In this article
What is diabetes?
Before we dive into diabetes prevention, it’s important to start with what diabetes actually is. For starters, it’s the fastest growing chronic health condition in Australia, with 280 Australians developing diabetes every day.1 Diabetes is a disease that makes it hard for your body to regulate the level of glucose in your blood. Over time, high blood glucose levels cause damage to the inside of blood vessels which can lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, and nerve damage.3
What causes diabetes?
While we don't fully understand why some people develop diabetes and others don't, it's believed that genetic and environmental factors play a role.2
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being inactive
- Being a smoker
- Family history
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Being older
- High blood pressure
What can I do to help prevent diabetes?
According to Diabetes Australia, type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in up to 58 percent of cases by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and following a healthy eating plan.3
Andy's five tips for prevention
Let’s look at Dr Andy’s five factors to help prevent and manage pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Control your weight: Excess weight is the single most important cause of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes seven-fold and being obese makes you 20 to 40 times more likely to develop diabetes than someone with a healthy weight. Combining healthy eating with physical activity can help move your weight into the healthy range.
- Healthy eating: Although there is no specific diabetes diet, you can reduce your risk by:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains
And eating less
- Saturated fats
- Refined carbohydrates
If you’re looking for advice, consider visiting a dietitian who can create a meal plan that fits your health goals, food preferences, and lifestyle.
- Physical activity: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week and additional muscle-strengthening exercise twice per week. Also, it’s good to avoid sitting for too long. Get up and move if you’ve been sitting for more than 30 minutes.
And remember, if you haven't been active for a while, start slowly and build up gradually.
- Stop smoking: Smokers are roughly 50 per cent more likely to develop diabetes than non-smokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk. Speak to your GP if you need help to quit smoking.
- Reduce alcohol consumption: All alcoholic drinks are high in kilojoules and can contribute to weight gain and increased blood pressure. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation limiting intake to 10 units per week with no more than four units on any one day and always with healthy food.
Already diagnosed? Let us be of support.
Depending on your cover,
can pay benefits towards visits to the dentist, a dietitian, a podiatrist,
an exercise physiologist, a physiotherapist or a psychologist.
HBF hospital cover
may pay benefits for insulin pumps, as well as hospital treatments that may
be required for diabetes (such as stabilisation of hypo- or hyperglycaemia
and lumps and bumps from insulin injections).
Eligible HBF members may also have access to The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Program, a 12-week science-backed weight management program that can support those managing Type 2 Diabetes who are looking to loose weight*.
Consider a pharmacy Health Check
Health checks include a diabetes risk assessment to check your risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the next five years.
Find out more
*HBF health support programs may be fully covered for members who hold an eligible level of HBF hospital cover and meet the program eligibility criteria. Other CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Program options are available if you have an eligible extras product. Annual limits and additional eligibility criteria may apply.