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:
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.
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)
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)
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.