To mark World Diabetes Day, November, 14, 2022 under the theme “Education to Protect Tomorrow,” it is essential to knowing the risk factors of type 2 diabetes as one of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that not only change your lifestyle, but your mind, attitude and practice. Diabetes education plays a crucial role in increasing population awareness about when, how and why to become educated about one’s modifiable risk factors of diabetes. What is Type 2 diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body is unable to make insulin or properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that helps our bodies control the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It is important to know that glucose is a simple form of sugar in the body that acts as an energy source. Diabetes is a chronic disease that leads to a range of debilitating health complications which can affect sexual productive health and eyesight. Diabetes can also result in chronic conditions that are associated with premature death, such as cardiovascular disease, and kidney diseases. Individuals with diabetes cost the health care system approximately twice as much as those without. What are the modifiable risk factors of type 2 diabetes? Type 2 diabetes affects about 90% of people, which means being aware and educated about modifiable risk factors will be essential to preventing the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. The role of a registered dietitian is to enable one to make a commitment to preventing diabetes by learning one’s own modifiable risk factors, such as unhealthy diet, inactive lifestyle, unhealthy body weight, and elevated blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure (metabolic syndromes). Risk factors that contribute to spike of type 2 diabetes Delayed diabetes screening, diagnosis, treatment, and care because hospitals have limited capacity and resources. Lack of health records and data to inform prevention strategies for poor diet and physical inactivity and the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues. As a clinician and public health professional, it is important to recognise that nutrition is a blind spot within the healthcare system. The absence of addressing nutrition within the healthcare system will continue to drive healthcare costs higher. Investing in cost-effective measures that educate individuals and communities about those modifiable risk factors is the best way to create health economic security and promote population health and wellness. Why is healthy eating important to prevent type 2 diabetes? At least 50% of diabetes cases can be prevented through structured lifestyle intervention programmes focused on healthy eating and physical activity. To prevent Type 2 diabetes, individuals and communities are required to be educated about the body’s needs and how nutrition influences health and illness. Diet plays an important role in controlling modifiable risk factors. Eating healthy simply means making good and healthy food choices. Eating healthy can mean finding new or different ways to prepare everyday meals. It is important to understand that food is personal and a bridge that connects individuals and communities. Thanks to “Doctor Google”, “YouTube University”, books, other media, friends, and relatives, one can get overloaded with information about what one should and should not eat. Varying eating philosophies can get very confusing and make one feel like one needs to eat lettuce and run for the rest of one’s life to prevent diabetes. As a health professional, I give basic science-based, nutrition, and dietary information on how to prevent diabetes. Firstly, it is important to develop the behaviour of seeking annual diabetes screening if there’s a risk or family history. Lastly, being aware of what, when and how much one eats are all important factors of healthy eating. Therefore, eating healthy means a balanced diet that is high in nutrition and fibre, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to meet body needs. The human body is a complex and marvelous machine, much like a vehicle. An automobile needs the proper mix of fuel to efficiently operate. Without it, they may stop working. Our body is similar, it needs the proper mix of good food (fuel) to keep it running well and repair itself. It does not run well on the wrong fuel which increases the chances of turning one’s modifiable risk factors into type 2 diabetes. Final thoughts Remember, get your nutrients from wholesome food, not supplements. At the heart of healthy eating are the choices we make in the long run. Healthy eating is being flexible and allowing yourself to occasionally enjoy small amounts of food. Being too strict or rigid and not allowing yourself to ever have treats will likely cause your best efforts to fail and increase risk factors of type 2 diabetes. The writer is a Canadian Registered Dietitian (RD), and founder and CEO of KUISHI SMART.