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Prevent Type 2 Diabetes in Your Family

How to Prevent or Delay Type 2 Diabetes

Nearly 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, a serious disease in which blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are above normal. One out of four people do not know they have diabetes. Many people do not find out they have diabetes until they are faced with serious health problems.

If you have a mother, father, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes, you are at risk for developing the disease. Talking about your family health history may make all the difference when it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is found for the first time when a woman is pregnant. Women who have had gestational diabetes may be at increased risk for developing diabetes for the rest of their lives, and the child from that pregnancy is at increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

You can take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes!

Although you cannot change your family health history, knowing about it can give you the information you need to work with your health care team to take action on the things you can change.  If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, you can prevent or delay this disease by making important lifestyle changes. If you’re overweight, losing five to seven percent of your body weight (for example, 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) can help to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Here are some tips to help you do this:

  • Make healthy food choices, choose water to drink instead of sugary drinks, and eat smaller portions.
  • Be active at least 30 minutes, five days per week to help burn calories and lose weight.
  • Ask family members to be active with you.
  • Write down (PDF, 350 KB) all the foods you eat and drink and the number of minutes you are active and review it daily to help you reach your goals.

If you had gestational diabetes:

  • Get tested for diabetes six to 12 weeks after your baby is born, and at least every three years after that.
  • Breastfeeding your baby may lower your child’s risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Talk to your doctor if you plan to become pregnant again in the future.
  • Try to reach your pre-pregnancy weight six to 12 months after your baby is born – even if you do not reach your ‘goal’ weight, research shows that a moderate weight loss if you are overweight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce risk.
  • Remember that you are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Follow a healthy lifestyle and encourage your family to join you. Stay at a healthy weight by making healthy food choices and moving more.

By taking these steps to prevent type 2 diabetes, you also are taking steps that can help lower your risk for other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and nerve damage. That's a big reward for you and your family!

Take the Family Health History Quiz

Learn what others are doing to manage their diabetes​​


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.


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