Tips for preventing diabetes

Diabetes prevention – the time to act is now

Almost half a million people in Switzerland suffer from diabetes – and this number is rising all the time. SWICA helps its customers to improve their health and take responsibility for their own risk of contracting diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition that develops gradually – often undetected. Besides a genetic disposition, one of the most important factors is a persistently unhealthy lifestyle. Many of those affected notice nothing sinister and therefore do nothing to avoid the problem which is coming their way. The irony is that just a few small, permanent lifestyle adjustments made in good time would be enough to prevent the disease developing in the first place.

As a healthcare organisation, SWICA is obviously in favour of individuals becoming aware of the risk of contracting diabetes and taking action to prevent it. It therefore offers a simple risk test and provides active support through personal advice and offers relating to fitness, exercise, nutrition, relaxation and wellbeing. santé24 would be delighted to help you if you have questions or would like advice. Phone +41 44 404 86 86.

The diabetes risk test – simple and free of charge

Information and tips relating to prediabetes

Diabetes mellitus, usually referred to simply as "diabetes", is a chronic metabolic disorder. In the case of type 2 diabetes, which is the form of diabetes which afflicts 90% of sufferers, either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use the insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone which directs glucose from the blood into the cells, which then use it to produce energy. If this mechanism is impaired, the sugar remains in the bloodstream and the blood sugar level rises. If this condition persists, blood vessels and organs can suffer serious damage. This can include circulation problems and damage to the blood vessels which can lead to heart attacks or strokes, impaired vision, kidney failure and nerve damage. One of the best known and most dreaded of these is "diabetic foot" which, left untreated, can result in the amputation of one or more toes or even the entire foot.

On average, diabetes remains undiagnosed for seven years. Estimates indicate that half of those affected are unaware that they suffer from this illness because neither prediabetes nor early-stage diabetes trigger significant symptoms. However, even at this early stage, they are already causing lasting damage. For those at risk it is therefore vital that they quantify their risk because – and this is the good news – even small but permanent adjustments to unhealthy habits can be extremely effective in the battle against diabetes. Those affected do not have to become elite athletes. Regular light physical exercise, combined with a balanced diet, produces excellent results. And of course everyone needs a little treat from time to time. At best, this approach can prevent diabetes or delay its onset for years. In other words, a change of lifestyle can help at-risk individuals improve their quality of life and give them more years of healthy carefree life than they would otherwise have enjoyed.


The following factors heighten the risk of developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Excess weight
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Previous gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)


Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are too high but full-blown diabetes has not yet developed. There are generally no specific symptoms. Every year five to ten percent of individuals with prediabetes develop diabetes. Prediabetes can cause damage to the sufferer's kidneys, nerves and eyes.

Symptoms of diabetes
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts or wounds are slow to heal
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Recurrent inflammation of the skin, gums or bladder

Diabetes is often only diagnosed after a heart attack or stroke.


For at-risk groups and for individuals who are already suffering from prediabetes it is important – and possible – to take action to prevent it becoming diabetes.
Download information sheet: Preventing diabetes type 2 (PDF)

Prevention activity no. 1: Exercise

Experts recommend 150 minutes of physical exercise per week (e.g. 30 minutes on five days). Any form of exercise which raises the pulse, quickens the breath and leads to sweating is good.
Download information sheet: Diabetes prevention – Physical exercise (PDF)

Prevention activity no. 2: A healthy, enjoyable diet
  • Fruit and vegetables every day
  • Carbohydrates with a high fibre content (wholegrain products)
  • Sugar-free drinks
  • Vegetable oils with unsaturated fatty acids
  • Preferably vegetable sources of protein (e.g. pulses or soya) or animal protein such as fish, poultry and low-fat dairy products
  • Very little red meat

Download information sheet: Diabetes prevention – Nutrition and health (PDF)

Prevention activity no. 3: Weight control

People of normal weight should avoid putting on any additional weight. People who are overweight should try to lose weight – even a little helps. Reducing your body weight by five to ten percent will significantly reduce your risk of contracting diabetes.

The Swiss Diabetes Society provides in-depth information about diabetes and diabetes prevention as well as counselling services for those affected and their family members.

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