Break the Cycle: Family-Friendly Health Tips to Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

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March is National Nutrition Month—a great time to reassess your family's food choices and physical activity levels to help reduce the risk of disease, including diabetes.

As of 2022, more than 37 million people in the U.S. are living with diabetes, with one out of five not knowing they have it. Even more staggering, 96 million Americans, more than one in three, have prediabetes—meaning their blood sugar levels are above normal but not yet at diabetic levels. Of those with prediabetes, more than 80% don’t know they have it.

Fortunately, there are things you can do now to avoid becoming a part of these alarming statistics. Overlake diabetes educator Lisa Levinson, RN, CDES, shares what actions you and your loved ones can proactively take to live healthier lives and reduce the risk of diabetes.

Family at dinner table.

How do I know if I have diabetes or prediabetes?

The American Diabetes Association recommends that all adults be screened for diabetes or prediabetes starting at age 45. As part of your regular primary care visit, your provider may recommend a hemoglobin A1C blood test, measuring your average blood sugar level over the past three months. An A1C test can identify if you have prediabetes or diabetes.

What is the most common form of diabetes and what are the risk factors?

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of diabetes cases and is the most common form of diabetes. In this case, the body cannot make enough insulin or is unable to use it properly.

You are at a greater risk for Type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Have a family history of diabetes.
  • Are over age 35.
  • Do not exercise regularly or are overweight.
  • Have low HDL or high triglyceride levels (blood fat levels).
  • Are of a particular racial and ethnic group (e.g., African American, Hispanic American, Asian and Pacific Islander, or Native American).
  • Are a woman who has had gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes occurring in four percent of all pregnancies, or who has had a baby weighing nine pounds or more at birth.

What can I do for myself and my family to reduce the risk of diabetes?

In recent years, Type 2 diabetes has steadily increased for children aged 10–19. Setting healthy habits at home can greatly reduce the risk of diabetes in both you and your family.

Lifestyle changes that may prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes include:

  • A healthy diet. – The MyPlate meal plan provides families with a meal planning framework. Identification of food types and portion sizes helps ensure meals are balanced and provide proper nutrition. It’s important for children to see their parents eating healthy meals, as this will plant the seeds for healthy eating now, and have a positive influence for years to come.
  • Regular exercise. – For adults, 150 minutes weekly, or 20-30 minutes a day, of moderate activity is recommended. Activities may be broken into shorter increments and done throughout the day, as weather and schedule permits.
  • Weight loss, if needed. – If you have prediabetes, even losing a small amount of weight (5-7%) can be incredibly beneficial. Set realistic goals that are sustainable to help to make weight loss goals more manageable.

In addition to these lifestyle changes, scheduling regular preventive care is vital to maintaining your overall health. Based on your family history and individual lifestyle, your primary care provider can put together a preventive care plan to keep you healthy. If you are looking for a primary care provider, visit, or if you are an established patient, make your appointment today.

Join us to learn more family-friendly health tips to reduce the risk of diabetes for yourself and your family. Register today for our Break the Cycle of Diabetes class taught by Overlake diabetes educator Lisa Levinson, RN, CDES

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