MEDICALLY REVIEWED

How To Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Tips for Asians

People cycling in Singapore

According to the International Diabetes Federation, over 60% of the world’s diabetes population resides in Asia. Asians are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to other ethnic groups. 

The good news is that it is preventable and can be managed through lifestyle changes. Here’s how you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition where the body cannot properly use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. As a result, blood sugar levels increase and can lead to several health complications. The risk factors include being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, poor diet, and genetics. As a group, Asians are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes due to a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors.

Why Are Asians At Higher Risk? 

Asians are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Research has shown that Asians tend to have a higher percentage of body fat, which is a significant risk factor. This is because excess body fat can cause insulin resistance, where the body cannot properly use insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing diabetes.

In addition to genetics, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity can also contribute to the higher risk of type 2 diabetes in Asians. Many traditional Asian diets tend to be high in carbohydrates, which can increase the risk of diabetes. Furthermore, physical activity levels tend to be lower in many Asian countries due to a variety of factors, including urbanization and sedentary jobs.

Other factors that contribute to the higher risk of type 2 diabetes in Asians include cultural and societal norms, such as the emphasis on academic and work success, which can lead to higher stress levels and a lack of time for exercise and healthy eating. Finally, the lack of awareness and education about diabetes prevention and management in some Asian communities can also contribute to the higher prevalence of the condition.

Preventative Measures To Take


1. Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Asians tend to have a higher percentage of body fat and are more susceptible to developing diabetes even at lower BMI levels. A healthy weight range for Asians is considered to be a BMI of 18.5-23.0. To maintain a healthy weight, aim to consume a balanced diet and engage in regular physical activity.

2. Engage in regular physical activity

Regular physical activity can help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Aim to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Resistance training, such as weightlifting, can also help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

3. Consume a balanced diet

A balanced diet is crucial in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Asians tend to consume a high-carbohydrate diet, which can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Aim to consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Avoid consuming sugary and processed foods, as well as sweetened beverages.

4. Reduce the consumption of white rice

White rice is a staple food in many Asian countries, but it can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that consuming one serving of white rice per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 11%. To lower the risk of diabetes, consider swapping white rice for brown rice, quinoa, or other whole grains.

5. Monitor blood sugar levels

Asians are more prone to developing diabetes at a younger age and at lower BMI levels. It is crucial to monitor blood sugar levels regularly, especially if there is a family history of diabetes. Early detection of high blood sugar levels can help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.

6. Reduce stress levels

Chronic stress can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Asians tend to experience high levels of stress due to cultural and societal pressures. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi. Also, aim to get sufficient sleep, as sleep deprivation can increase stress levels.

7. Quit Smoking

Smoking is a risk factor for several health conditions, including type 2 diabetes. According to the World Health Organization, smokers have a 30-40% higher risk of developing diabetes compared to non-smokers. Quitting smoking can help lower the risk of developing diabetes and improve overall health.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Asians are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. Fortunately, it is preventable and can be managed through lifestyle changes. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, consuming a balanced diet, reducing the consumption of white rice, monitoring blood sugar levels, reducing stress levels, and quitting smoking are all effective ways to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

It is essential to note that these tips should be incorporated into a long-term, sustainable lifestyle change. Small, gradual changes are more manageable and have a higher chance of success compared to drastic changes. Furthermore, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your lifestyle, especially if you have a family history of diabetes or any other medical conditions.

Type 2 diabetes is a prevalent and preventable condition, especially for Asians. By making simple lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and consuming a balanced diet, we can lower the risk of developing diabetes and improve our overall health and wellbeing. 

Share via

Also worth reading

People also read:

meat cancer
New Study Reveals Link Between Meat Consumption and Cancer Risks

A comprehensive study finds that processed and red meats are linked to a higher risk of colorectal, stomach, and pancreatic cancers. Experts urge a drastic overhaul of dietary habits, recommending a reduction or elimination of processed meats and an increase in plant-based foods. Discover the latest findings and what they mean for global public health policies.

Read More »
TMJ Dr Yao Chao Shu
TMJ Disorders: A Deep Dive into Jaw Health

An often overlooked issue, jaw health can have a solid and lasting impact on the quality of life for the people it affects. Maintaining good health of the Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is crucial.  In this article, we discuss TMJ disorders with Dr Yao Chao Shu, prosthodontist at Q&M Dental City Square Mall.

Read More »