Diagnosed With Diabetes? Treatment and Prevention Tips

By: Kristi Tough DeSapri, MD • Posted on January 23, 2012 • Updated March 09, 2021

Diagnosed With Diabetes? Treatment and Prevention Tips

Diabetes: Treatment and Prevention

The first line treatment for diabetes and prevention is diet and exercise. In fact, the largest study on diabetes shows that combining diet, exercise and weight loss reduces AIC (measure of blood sugar over three months) almost as much as the medication Metformin, which is the first line treatment for diabetes after diet and exercise.

Prevention of any disease, such as diabetes and heart disease starts with awareness.

These risk factors may increase your chance of developing diabetes

  • A family history of diabetes (if a parent or sibling in your family has diabetes)
  • Race or ethnic background (the risk of diabetes is greater in Hispanics, African-Americans, Native Americans, and Asians)
  • Being overweight or obese (body mass index >25 or >30 respectively)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart disease
  • Abnormal blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels: HDL or "good" cholesterol level under 45 mg/dl for men and 55 mg/dl for women, and/or a triglyceride level over 150 mg/dl
  • Use of certain drugs: Steroid medications (such as prednisone or dexamethasone)
  • Alcohol, especially if you have been a heavy drinker for years
  • Smoking
  • History of gestational diabetes (developing diabetes during pregnancy) or delivery of babies who weigh more than 9 pounds

The American Diabetic Association (ADA) suggests screening for diabetes starting at age 45 if you are overweight (BMI>25 kg/m2) and have one or more risk factors listed above. If the fasting sugar or two-hour oral glucose tolerance test are normal, re-screening every three years is suggested.

It’s best to prevent and treat type-2 diabetes with two key ingredients: diet and exercise before adding the third ingredient: medication.

-Kristi Tough DeSapri, MD
Internal Medicine, Northwestern Medical Group
Assistant Professor, Feinberg School of Medicine


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