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The 5-Percent Plan: Preventing Diabetes and Heart Disease

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Want to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease? Losing just a few pounds can make a big difference. A study called the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that dropping even just 5 to 10 percent of your weight can prevent or delay diseases like type 2 diabetes. For a 180-pound person, 5 percent is just 9 pounds.

In the United States today, one in five people have diabetes, and heart disease is the leading cause of death. Losing weight lowers your risk in several ways, and health experts say there is one key to slimming down: Go slowly. Most of us succeed by making one small change at a time. Little by little, the small changes you make will add up to a big difference.

When it comes to losing weight, there are two places to focus -- healthy eating and exercise. But eating healthy doesn't have to mean going on a diet, or even swearing off chocolate cake (not completely). "What's most important is to choose more vegetables, whole grains and fruit every day," says Dr. Jamy Ard of the University of Alabama, Birmingham Department of Nutrition Sciences. "These high-fiber foods provide disease fighting nutrients, fill you up, and keep you full longer so that you are less likely to snack on high calorie foods."

Here are some tips for healthy weight loss:

* Focus on the positive. Instead of thinking about what not to eat, focus on foods you should eat more of, like veggies, whole grains and fruits. You'll probably find that when you fill up on these healthful snacks, you won't have much room left for "junk." Using this strategy, you can actually eat more food than you eat now, but get fewer calories, the basic recipe for successful weight loss.

* Get moving. You don't have to train for a marathon in order to get benefits from physical activity. Adding just a little bit of activity to your day will improve your health. The key is to start slowly. If you're not very active now, start by trying to walk for 5 or 10 minutes a few days a week. Then work up to a 30-minute brisk walk most days.

* Shop on the edge. Grocers tend to stock the healthiest items around the sides of the store. Head for the fruit and vegetable aisle, and you'll have less of an appetite for the processed foods in the middle. Try to shop when you're not hungry and stick to your grocery list so you won't be tempted by those high-calorie treats. Aim to keep lots of healthy foods on hand and ready to eat, and keep those cupboards clear of fatty foods and sweets.

To learn more about how weight loss can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383), e-mail or visit Be sure to ask for your copy of "Healthy Eating: Make It Happen."

SOURCE American Diabetes Association
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