Health Watch -- Preventing Diabetes

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

You may be able to do something now to affect your health in the future.

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in the United States. It's the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 16 million Americans. This form of diabetes is often called "adult onset" diabetes because it usually strikes later in life, but doctors are seeing this disease affect younger and younger people, including children. Scientists aren't entirely sure what causes this disease, but it appears that there are both genetic and lifestyle factors involved.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say there's one important thing you can do now to lower your risk of diabetes: exercise. Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, a UT Southwestern diabetes expert, says increasing the amount of physical activity you get and decreasing more sedentary activities can help you avoid developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are known to be risk factors for diabetes.

People who have a family history of diabetes need to be especially concerned about their risks. These people should be sure to exercise and keep their weight under control, and they should encourage their children to exercise and maintain a healthy weight.

Preventing diabetes is extremely important because of all the complications associated with this disease. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease. Diabetes also may cause complications that require amputations, and it can cause blindness.