We examined the proportion of American adults without type 2 diabetes that engages in lifestyle behaviors known to reduce type 2 diabetes risk.
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 3,679 nonpregnant, nonlactating individuals aged ≥20 years without diabetes (self-reported diagnosis or glycated hemoglobin ≥6.5% [8 mmol/mol] or fasting plasma glucose ≥126 mg/dL) and who provided 2 days of reliable dietary data in the 2007–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). We used the average of 2 days of dietary recall and self-reported leisure-time physical activity to assess whether participants met type 2 diabetes risk reduction goals (meeting four or more MyPlate recommendations [adequate consumption of fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, meat, beans, and eggs]; not exceeding three maximum allowances for alcoholic beverages, added sugars, fat, and cholesterol; and meeting physical activity recommendations [≥150 min/week]).
Approximately 21%, 29%, and 13% of individuals met fruit, vegetable, and dairy goals, respectively. Half (51.6%) met the goal for total grains, compared with 18% for whole grains, and 54.2% met the meat/beans goal and 40.6% met the oils goal. About one-third (37.8%) met the physical activity goal, and 58.6% met the weight loss/maintenance goal. Overall, 3.1% (95% CI 2.4–4.0) of individuals met the majority of type 2 diabetes risk reduction goals. Younger age and lower educational attainment were associated with lower probability of meeting goals.
A small proportion of U.S. adults engages in risk reduction behaviors. Research and interventions targeted at young and less-educated segments of the population may help close gaps in risk reduction behaviors.