Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar is elevated (above acceptable levels), but not high enough to fall into the range of type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association 79 million people in the United States have prediabetes, which if left untreated will become type 2 diabetes. Additionally, research has shown that pre-diabetes can cause heart and circulatory problems. Clearly, this is a condition which needs to be taken seriously.
Pre-diabetes should be considered "Pre-Type 2 Diabetes". If it is not properly treated, it has the potential to progress to Type 2 diabetes. If your fasting blood sugar (after 8 hours of not eating, usually overnight) is between 100 mg/dl and 125 mg/dl then you have pre-diabetes. A fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dl puts you in the Type 2 diabetes category. Remember that pre-diabetes has nothing to do with Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder. (We must continue to support research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes).
According to Dr. Gary Trager, the director of the Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology and Metabolism in Huntington New York, "The risk of heart attack and stroke triples to quadruples when you have the diagnosis of pre-diabetes". Pre-diabetes can also increase the risk of retinopathy and neuropathy. Many people are walking around undiagnosed with pre-diabetes (as there are often no overt symptoms). In a recent study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, about half of those diagnosed with pre-diabetes don't even try to lose weight or alter their lifestyle habits. I suppose either people are scared and want to prevent Type 2 diabetes, or they are not motivated to change their diet and physical activity habits until they actually develop full blown diabetes! Anywhere from 33%-70% of people who have pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes. Since it is much easier to control than Type 2, I continue to reach out to those with pre-diabetes in order to help them properly manage their blood sugars.
A study called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) found that losing 5-10% of body weight (by reducing caloric intake and increasing physical exercise) can prevent (or substantially delay) Type 2 diabetes from developing. Carrying weight in your belly is very dangerous, and can significantly impact your blood sugar levels. People who are "apple shaped" are at high risk for being insulin resistant. A woman with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches is at high risk for developing blood sugar problems. And a man with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches is in the high risk category.
Don't delay! Get started today! If you’re not sure how to manage your carbohydrate and calorie intake, contact a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator to develop a meal plan that will fit into your lifestyle and control your blood sugars. Start moving! Exercise is a key component to blood sugar management. Talk to your doctor about possible blood glucose monitoring and medications changes. Do whatever you can to prevent pre-diabetes from developing into Type 2 diabetes.