Prediabetes is a condition indicating that you are at high risk for developing diabetes. Although many medical experts do not like to use this term, it can be helpful to know whether one’s body now has trouble processing glucose (sugar) and whether one is at higher risk for developing diabetes later in life.
Prediabetes is defined as having blood glucose levels higher than normal, but lower than the threshold for the diagnosis diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association,1 this is defined as a blood glucose level higher than normal but usually lower than 126 mg/dl or a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) level between 5.7% to 6.4%.
How many people in the US have prediabetes?
The US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005-2008 showed that 35% of US adults over age 20, and 50% of US adults over age 65 had prediabetes.2 That is about 79 million US adults with prediabetes,2 and the number is expected to continue increasing.
If I have Prediabetes, will I develop diabetes?
Prediabetes does not mean that you will definitely develop diabetes, but about 5-10% of people with prediabetes become diabetic each year.3,4 Studies have shown that over 70% of people with prediabetes will eventually develop diabetes.5
Similar to diabetes, prediabetes can have negative effects on your body, including damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels and heart.5
What do I do if I have prediabetes?
It’s important to treat prediabetes to decrease your risk of progressing to diabetes and also prevent the negative effects and potential organ damage from prediabetes itself.
Many clinical trials have shown that if you have prediabetes, you can decrease your risk of developing diabetes and even eliminate your prediabetes with lifestyle modifications and/or medications.3,6,7 The US Diabetes Prevention Program showed that with each 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight lost, people saw a 16% risk reduction of developing diabetes.8 Overall, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in the USA and the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study in Europe showed a 58% risk reduction of developing diabetes with weight loss, change in diet, and increased physical activity.7,9
Current science suggests that lifestyle modification, that is changing to a healthier diet and increasing physical activity, are much preferred methods to prevent diabetes and return to normality than using any medication tested for that purpose to date.
Conclusion: If your healthcare provider tells you have prediabetes…
Make a conscious decision to prevent the development of diabetes.
Prevent the potential negative effects, including damage to your eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels and heart.
Talk to your healthcare provider. Improve your diet. Exercise for 30 minutes, five times per week. Lose weight.
There are many ways to improve your health, and there are many resources available to help you. Talk to your healthcare provider, and visit our Pangea Nutrition Resources page for more information.
- American Diabetes Association. Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care 2011; 34 (suppl 1): S62–69.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Fact Sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.
- Forouhi NG, Luan J, Hennings S, Wareham NJ. Incidence of type 2 diabetes in England and its association with baseline impaired fasting glucose: the Ely study 1990–2000. Diabet Med 2007; 24: 200–07.
- Nathan DM, Davidson MB, DeFronzo RA, et al, for the American Diabetes Association. Impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance: implications for care. Diabetes Care 2007; 30: 753–59.
- Ligthart, Symen, et al. "Lifetime risk of developing impaired glucose metabolism and eventual progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study." The lancet Diabetes & endocrinology4.1 (2016): 44-51.
- The DREAM (Diabetes REduction Assessment with Ramipril and rosiglitazone Medication) Trial Investigators. Eff ect of rosiglitazone on the frequency of diabetes in patients with impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2006; 368: 1096–105.
- Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, et al, for the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin.N Engl J Med 2002; 346: 393–403.
- Hamman RF, Wing RR, Edelstein SL, et al. Effect of weight loss with lifestyle intervention on risk of diabetes. Diabetes Care 2006; 29: 2102–07.
- Tuomilehto, Jaakko, et al. "Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance." New England Journal of Medicine344.18 (2001): 1343-1350.