Researchers from the US National Institutes of Health say living a healthy lifestyle can cut the risk of developing diabetes by as much as 80 percent.
Previous studies had revealed that habits such as diet, physical activity, smoking and drinking affect people's risk of developing diabetes, but how each individual factor affects the risk had been unclear.
The new study has found that each healthy lifestyle factor can reduce the risk on a different level, which adds up to others if an individual makes multiple choices.
Scientists analyzed 114,996 men and 92,483 women of 50 to 71 years old, none of whom had diabetes, cancer or heart disease at the start of the research.
Over 10 years of follow-up, 9.6 percent of the men and 7.5 percent of the women developed diabetes, researchers wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“The lifestyle factors we looked at were physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, alcohol consumption and smoking,” said lead researcher Jarad Reis. “For each one of those, there was a significant reduction in risk for developing diabetes."
Findings showed that having a normal weight by itself reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 60 to 70 percent. A healthy diet lowered the odd by about 15 percent while not smoking decreased the chance by about 20 percent.
The healthier lifestyle factors an individual had, the lower was the risk for developing diabetes, said researchers noting that the overall risk reduction even reached to 80 percent in those enjoying the most healthy lifestyle factors.
The analysis showed that for each additional healthy lifestyle choice the risk of developing diabetes reduced 31 percent for men and 39 percent for women.
"Our results confirm our public health efforts to get individuals to attain and maintain a healthy diet, physical activity, an optimal body weight, not smoking, and drinking in moderation," Reis concluded.