A study presented in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (April, 2010) stated that 50% of Americans diagnosed with pre-diabetes do not make changes, such as lowering body mass and exercising, to help avoid full-blown diabetes at a later date.

Did you know nearly 30% of all adults in the U.S. have pre-diabetes? More than 90% of these 57 million adults aren’t even aware they have pre-diabetes.

Here are some pre-diabetes facts and recommendations to lower your risk, or the risk of loved ones, of developing diabetes:

  • Pre-diabetes is a condition where the blood sugar levels are above normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Here are the blood sugar numbers you should know:
    • Normal range: 60-99
    • Pre-diabetes:100-125
    • Diabetes: 126+ on two separate blood tests.
  • Pre-diabetes can also be diagnosed with a two-hour glucose tolerance test with the normal being up to 139 and a pre-diabetes, or impaired glucose tolerance, level of 140-199. A newer test that can be used to indicate pre-diabetes is the A1C, or three-month average. The pre-diabetes A1C number would be 5.8%-6-4%. Diabetes is diagnosed at 6.5%.
  • According to the American Diabetes Association, a great number of people with pre-diabetes become diabetic within 10 years after the initial pre-diabetes diagnosis.
  • Who is at greatest risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes?
    • People with a family history of diabetes
    • People whose ethnicity is African-American, Hispanic, Asian American, Pacific Island Descent, or Eastern European (Jewish)
    • People over 40 years of age
    • People who are overweight, or have sleep apnea, sedentary lifestyle, polycystic ovarian syndrome, gestational diabetes, or high triglycerides
  • In 2001, the National Institutes of Health completed the Diabetes Prevention Program and found that lifestyle changes reduced the risk of becoming diabetic even if you have pre-diabetes.
  • How can you find out if you or someone you know has pre-diabetes? Take a blood glucose test. You can do this at home with ChoiceDM Diabetes Risk In-Home Test Kit. ChoiceDM is an easy-to-use, discreet 3-minute test that is FDA approved. Personalized results of your 90-day blood glucose average will be mailed to you in 7-10 days. Your doctor can also administer the appropriate diabetes screening tests. Just get it done!
  • Unlike diabetes, pre-diabetes may not exhibit any symptoms like thirst, hunger, fatigue, dry skin, frequent infections, blurry vision or sexual problems. Only 50% of people with diabetes have symptoms and people with pre-diabetes have even fewer symptoms.
  • Exercise is recommended to reduce your pre-diabetes risk and other health concerns. Aerobic activity such as walking, riding a bicycle, or swimming for 150 minutes a week (broken down into 30 minute sessions) is a great place to start. Exercise lowers insulin resistance which is a precursor to diabetes and pre-diabetes.
  • Good eating habits are essential to lowering your risk of developing pre-diabetes. Reduce your total carbohydrates – especially carbs with a high glycemic index such as fruit juice, regular soda, white bread and white rice. Watch your portion sizes by using the 9-inch plate method:
    • ½ plate of fruits and vegetables
    • ¼ plate of lean meat or protein
    • ¼ plate of grains or starches, such as rice or pasta
  • Reduce your body mass 5-10%. This reduces insulin resistance which reduces your chance of developing diabetes.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Control your blood pressure and ask your doctor for a blood lipid profile. This will help understand the state of your cardiovascular health. People with pre-diabetes have 1.5 times the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and people with diabetes have 2-4 times the risk of developing heart disease and stroke according to the American Diabetes Association.

Pre-diabetes is a warning sign. Take control sooner than later, or you may be addressing diabetes in your future.

NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.

Roberta Kleinman

Roberta Kleinman

Roberta Kleinman, RN, M. Ed., CDE, is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator. She grew up in Long Island, NY. Her nursing training was done at the University of Vermont where she received a B.S. R.N. Robbie obtained her Master of Education degree, with a specialty in exercise physiology, from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.

She is a member of the American Diabetes Association as well as the South Florida Association of Diabetes Educators. She worked with the education department of NBMC to help educate the hospital's in-patient nurses about diabetes. She practices a healthy lifestyle and has worked as a personal fitness trainer in the past.

She was one of the initiators of the North Broward Diabetes Center (NBMC) which started in 1990 and was one of the first American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified programs in Broward County, Florida for nearly two decades. Robbie has educated patients to care for themselves and has counseled them on healthy eating, heart disease, high lipids, use of glucometers, insulin and many other aspects of diabetes care. The NBMC Diabetes Center received the Valor Award from the American Diabetes Center for excellent care to their patients. Robbie has volunteered over the years as leader of many diabetes support groups.
Roberta Kleinman