Can diabetes be prevented?

Everyone in my family has diabetes. I live a healthy lifestyle, but is it inevitable that I will develop it? —D.B., Bush, Louisiana

No, it's not inevitable. The exact causes of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are still unknown. However, you do have a greater risk for getting the disease.

According to the American Diabetes Association, if your father has type 1 diabetes, your chance of getting type 1 diabetes is one in 17. That changes to one in 25 if your mother has type 1 diabetes and you were born before she was 25; it's one in 100 if you were born after she turned 25. If one of your parents was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes before the age of 50, your risk for type 2 diabetes would be one in seven. Your risk decreases to one in 13 if your parent was diagnosed after the age of 50.

Keep in mind, genetic predisposition is a risk factor for both types, but it's just one risk factor. Obesity and lack of exercise are significant risk factors for type 2 diabetes, so if you're exercising regularly and staying at a healthy weight, you're making a huge step toward minimizing your risk.