5 Tips to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes


5 Tips to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

26, November 2018 10:02 AM

5 Tips to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes Risk and Kids

While type 2 diabetes rates continue to climb among the adult population in the U.S., rates among children and adolescents are growing as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 132,000 people younger than 18 had diabetes in 2015.1 A growing number of teens are being diagnosed with prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Risk factors for teens and children include family history and obesity.2

Though these numbers are alarming, prediabetes or a family history of this disease don’t necessarily have to translate into a diabetes diagnosis. Teachers and health educators can play a crucial role in chronic disease prevention. Even if teachers and students have risk factors for diabetes, teaching and adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

5 tips to help prevent type 2 diabetes:


#1: Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight is a risk factor for developing diabetes across all age groups. The most effective way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a balanced diet, avoiding too many “extras” like chips and candy and eating “right-sized” portions. Ironically, diets that restrict eating often lead to weight gain, not loss. Focus instead on making small changes, such as decreasing portion sizes or adding a vegetable to a meal.

#2: Eat from all of the Food Groups

To have a balanced diet, make nutritious choices from all of the food groups: Dairy, Vegetables, Fruits, Grains and Protein. Including food from at least three food groups at meals and two at snacks is a good rule of thumb. Pair an apple with ayogurt, or make a smoothie with fruit and milk. New research shows an association between eating full-fat dairy foods and lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in those that already have prediabetes.3

#3: Don’t Skip Meals – Especially Breakfast

Skipping meals can cause a person to overeat at the next meal. Breakfast is especially important, as starting the day with breakfast is associated with better health, diet quality, behavior and academic benefits. The benefits students receive from eating a healthy breakfast include an increased ability to stay on-task, improved memory and lower body weight. Read here for more research connecting students and breakfast. A balanced breakfast including protein, fiber and fat keeps you feeling full through lunch. Including foods from three or more food groups is a simple model to ensure a variety of nutrients.

#4: Make Time to Be Active

Physical activity is important to both physical and mental health. Aim to be active for a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week. This can be achieved by simply taking the stairs, going for a walk at lunch or walking the dog after work. Children need 60 minutes of activity per day. This can be done all at once or in increments of time, such as 30 minutes during recess and 30 minutes after school. Physical activity can become a consistent habit if it’s enjoyable and varied.

#5: Teach Skills for a Healthy Lifestyle

Teachers can help lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits by introducing nutrition education in their classrooms. Dairy Council of California K-12 nutrition curriculum aligns with Common Core State Standards and is designed to encourage healthy-eating behaviors and attitudes at every grade level. Being proactive about teaching students nutrition can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits.

Though diabetes statistics can be alarming, there are steps each person can take to reduce their risk of developing the disease. Eating a balanced diet based on all of the food groups and incorporating physical activity can significantly improve a person’s health. Teachers can positively contribute to the health of their students by encouraging breakfast at home or school and teaching nutrition programs in the classroom. Together, small acts have the potential to make a big difference in the lives of students—and people—everywhere.


Kristal Shelden, MPH, RDN
Project Manager, Nutrition Sciences

Megan Holdaway, Dietetic Intern

Kristal is a registered dietitian nutritionist and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


1. Centers for Disease Control. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. National Diabetes Statistics Report. 2017. http://www.diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/basics/cdc-statistics-report-2017.pdf

2. American Diabetes Association. Preventing Type 2 in children. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/children-and-type-2/preventing-type-2-in-children.html. Published December 30, 2014.

3. Hruby A, Ma J, Rogers G, Meigs JB, Jacques PF. Associations of dairy intake with incident prediabetes or diabetes in middle-aged adults vary by both dairy type and glycemic status. J Nutr. 2017; 147: 1764-1775. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.117.253401

Tags: healthy dietary patterns Healthy eating healthy eating for kids nutrition research physical activity type 2

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