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Pre-Diabetes

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is a condition that is estimated to be affecting 41 million people (that is in addition to the estimated 18 million people with diabetes).  While the name is new, the condition certainly is not.  Pre-diabetes used to be called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.  By definition, pre-diabetes is a condition where one has fasting blood sugar levels above normal (blood sugar between 100-125 mg/dl) but the blood sugar levels are not high enough to diagnose diabetes (fasting blood sugar above 126 mg/dl).

What are the risk factors for pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes or diabetes risk increases with the following factors:
  • family history of diabetes,
  • ethnicity of Hispanic/Latino, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Native American, or African American,
  • overweight or obese,
  • high blood pressure
  • low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs

What should I do if I'm at risk for pre-diabetes?

If you are at risk, get your blood sugar tested.  If your doctor has diagnosed you with pre-diabetes or mentioned impaired glucose tolerance to you, take action to prevent or delay onset of diabetes.

What if I have pre-diabetes?

Those with pre-diabetes are more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the future but there are preventative measures.  Following a diet low in fat and a reduction in calories, physical exercise, and weight loss if overweight can help prevent or delay diabetes.  These preventative measures can "turn back the clock" and return elevated blood sugars to normal levels.

Can I reduce my risk for diabetes if I have pre-diabetes?

The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) has recently found that those with Pre-Diabetes can make simple lifestyle changes to reduce risk for diabetes later in life.  The DPP found that subjects with Pre-Diabetes experienced a 58% reduction of risk for Type 2 diabetes when they:

  • lost a modest amount of weight (5-7% of their body weight),
  • exercised at moderate intensity for an average of 30 minutes a day, five days per week (most chose to walk for exercise), and
  • lowered their intake of fat and calories.

Those following the lifestyle changes were able to reduce their risk even more so than those taking medications to lower blood sugar.  These preventative measures can "turn back the clock" and return elevated blood sugar to normal levels. 

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