Doing This Slashes Your Diabetes Risk by 70 Percent After Age 60, CDC Says

This may be the single best thing you can do to prevent diabetes.

Prediabetes, the precursor to diabetes, is a serious health condition in which your blood sugar is elevated moderately above normal levels. Roughly 88 million Americans—or 1 in 3 American adults—have prediabetes, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 84 percent of those individuals are unaware that they have it. This can have serious health consequences, given that prediabetes can lead not only to type 2 diabetes, but also to heart disease and stroke. That's why experts say it's so essential to manage your blood sugar; the CDC has one specific piece of advice for lowering your odds of diabetes—and it's simpler than you might expect. Read on to discover which one change the CDC says can slash your risk of diabetes by 70 percent if you're over age 60.

RELATED: If You Notice This on Your Legs, Get Checked for Diabetes Now, Experts Say.

If you're over 60, you can slash your diabetes risk by losing even a "small amount" of weight.

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If you have prediabetes, one of the best ways to reverse its course is to lose weight. The CDC says that, if you're overweight, losing even a "small amount" should significantly lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. They recommend setting a goal to lose between five to seven percent of your body weight in order to see beneficial changes in your blood sugar levels. This means that a 200-pound individual would need to shed just 10 to 14 pounds to potentially achieve these results. The CDC notes that reaching this goal typically requires a more mindful diet; the health authority also recommends incorporating 3o minutes of exercise or brisk walking into your routine five days a week.

RELATED: If You Notice This in the Bathroom, It Could Be the First Sign of Diabetes.

CDC-recognized lifestyle programs can lower your diabetes risk by up to 70 percent.

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In particular, the health authority recommends working toward this goal using their National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). With branches all over the country, DPPs are lifestyle change programs developed in partnership with public and private organizations working to prevent type 2 diabetes. And, there's cause for hope if you do decide to join: the programs have been found to reduce the average person's risk of diabetes by 58 percent. If you happen to be over the age of 60, that number jumps to 71 percent.

Each program is led by a trained lifestyle coach who can help you achieve "realistic, lasting lifestyle changes," according to the CDC. Coaches may work with you to develop a healthy eating plan and find ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine, as well as equip you with stress management tools and other coping skills. Through DPPs, you can also connect with other people with prediabetes who have similar goals and challenges, the CDC says.

DPPs may help you stay off of diabetes medication.

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DPP programs are only open to individuals with a blood test-confirmed diagnosis of prediabetes who also have a BMI over 25. For many people joining the program, the primary goal is to stop prediabetes from developing into full type 2 diabetes—something many hope to do achieve without medication.

According to program leaders, DPPs have helped many people achieve these goals. Brooke Hudspeth, PharmD, a program coordinator for Kroger's Diabetes Self-Management Education Program and the Diabetes Prevention Program, shared a story from one of her groups on the matter."One participant came in for her scheduled session and reported she had gone to see her doctor for a follow-up earlier in the week," Hudspeth told the CDC.  "After taking her weight, A1C and other labs, he came back into the room with a big smile on his face. He told her that he had fully intended to start her on medication at that visit to manage her blood sugar; however, after seeing her positive results, he no longer needed to do so."

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The CDC's prevention programs have confirmed results.

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While you can, of course, lose weight without the help of a DPP, there's a key benefit to seeking one out: quality control. The CDC says that they only recognize programs that follow an approved curriculum, are facilitated by trained lifestyle coaches, and submit data every six months demonstrating that the program is achieving real results.

If you have a prediabetes diagnosis and want to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, you can check out this searchable registry of CDC-approved DPPs to find a program near you.

RELATED: If You See This on Your Nails, It Could Be a Tell-Tale Sign of Diabetes.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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