Healthline devise test to assess risk of diabetes

Diabetes is a global epidemic expected to be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. The condition is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation – and places a huge strain on our health services.

Yet type 2 form of the disease – which accounts for 90 per cent of cases – is largely preventable. Nine cases in 10 could be avoided, according to experts at Harvard School of Public Health.

Now Healthline has devised a test for you to assess your risk of developing diabetes and advises what you can do to reduce it.

Lifestyle factors

The quiz asks you about your diet, exercise, sleep and smoking habits.

The authors point out that this assessment is not a diagnostic tool, and merely aims to help you understand the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and give recommendations for lifestyle changes.

Get more exercise

Almost 90 per cent of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or are obese, according to Public Health England.

People who are overweight or have obesity have added pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin to properly control blood sugar and are therefore more likely to develop diabetes.

Studies show that people at high risk for developing the disease can prevent or delay its onset by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight.

Exercise reduces the body’s need for insulin by keeping weight down.


To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week, and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)


  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)


  • A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Cut down on sugary drinks

Drinking more than two sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks a day greatly increases the risk of diabetes, research has found.

A Swedish study found that consuming more than two 200ml drinks more than doubled the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

A serious soft drink habit consisting of at least five drinks daily boosted the likelihood of having the disease more than 10 times, according to the Karolinska Institute.

Added sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5 per cent of the calorie intake you get from food and drink each day, according to NHS Choices. This is about 30g of sugar a day for those aged 11 and over.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep is said to raise the risk of diabetes – even in healthy people.

Researchers from Chicago University, found getting too little shut-eye for just three nights reduces the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars.

A study in 2014 found shift work raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than a third.

This is possibly because disruption to the body clock affects hormone levels which may lead to insulin resistance.

Quit smoking

Smoking is now proven to be a risk factor for diabetes, and amongst diabetics it increases the risk of complications.

Tobacco use can increase blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of diabetes.

People who smoke heavily – more than 20 cigarettes a day – have almost double the risk of developing diabetes compared with people who don’t smoke, according to Mayo Clinic.

Eat more fruit and veg

Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of many diseases, and help you maintain a healthy weight and therefore reduce your risk of diabetes.

A diet rich in these foods can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check, say Harvard School of Public Health.

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