Guest Post: Five Things You Need to Know About Prediabetes
By: Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, the ADA’s Chief Science and Medical Officer, American Diabetes Association
November is American Diabetes Month® (ADM) at the American Diabetes Association® (ADA). This month often focuses on type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, prediabetes is also a pressing health concern in the U.S. More than 96 million American adults have prediabetes (one in three adults in the U.S.), and 81% are unaware that they have it. While prediabetes puts you at high risk for type 2 diabetes, it can be delayed or prevented.
At the ADA, we are committed to changing the curve on diabetes and providing resources to help people prevent or manage diabetes. Here are five things you should know about prediabetes:
- What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition that comes before diabetes. It means your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
- How can I find out if I have prediabetes?
Since there aren’t clear symptoms for prediabetes, it is possible you could have it and not know it. Your doctor can give you a blood test to tell if you have prediabetes (the same blood tests are used to check for diabetes). At your next health care provider visit, ask if you should be tested for prediabetes or diabetes, especially if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Take the ADA’s 60-Second Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test to learn your risk.
- What can I do if I have prediabetes or if I am at risk of developing it?
If you have prediabetes or are at risk for developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, there are important steps you can — and should — take. Early intervention can turn back the clock and return high blood glucose levels to the normal range. If you are overweight or struggle with obesity, you are at an increased risk not only for type 2 diabetes, but other chronic conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Losing weight is a positive step for managing risk in most people with prediabetes. A weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds can really stack the odds in your favor. Couple that with 30 minutes of exercise each day and a healthy eating plan, and you’ll be on your way. The National Diabetes Prevention Program, which is available around the country, has been shown to lower the risk of developing diabetes by 60%. Talk with your health care provider and visit the ADA’s website to learn more about other ways you can prevent or delay prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
- If I have prediabetes, does this mean I’m going to develop type 2 diabetes?
Prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes, but it doesn’t have to. For some people with prediabetes, taking steps like moderate lifestyle changes can return blood glucose levels to a normal range, preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes.
- Where can I find more information and assistance?
It is important to remember you are not alone and that it is never too late to make healthy changes. The ADA is here to help. Check out our resources on health and wellness and food and nutrition for tips on healthy eating and being active. In addition, you can participate in a lifestyle change program.
To learn more about ADM and get more information to join us in our fight to end diabetes, visit diabetes.org/WeFight.