Prediabetes—What Is It and Can You Prevent It?

If you have prediabetes, you have a greater chance of getting diabetes down the road. Make changes now to prevent the onset of diabetes and protect your health.

Family walking outside, preventing prediabetes


What is prediabetes?


Prediabetes is a condition in which you have more sugar (also called glucose) in your blood than normal—but not so much that you can be diagnosed with diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you have a much greater chance of getting diabetes in the next 5 years.

There’s a lot you can do to lower your blood sugar—and lower your other health risks at the same time.

What causes prediabetes?

Certain risk factors can increase your chances of getting prediabetes (and diabetes).


Risk factors you can change

Risk factors you cannot change

  • Not enough physical activity
  • Poor diet
  • Overweight or obese
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Family: Mother, father, sister, or brother with type 2 diabetes
  • Age: 45 or over
  • Race: African American, Native American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, or Asian
  • Health history: Had gestational (pregnancy) diabetes or delivered a baby weighing over 9 pounds

Related: How Can You Prevent Diabetes

You need a blood test to find out if you have prediabetes. The two most common blood tests for prediabetes are the FPG test (Fasting Plasma Glucose) and the HBA1C test (also called A1C). Your healthcare provider can tell you more.

  • Normal: FPG is less than 100 mg/dL and HBA1C less than 5.7%
  • Prediabetes: FPG 100 to 125 mg/dL and HBA1C 5.7% to 6.4%
  • Diabetes: FPG 126 mg/dL or above and HBA1C 6.5% or above

Why does it matter?

High blood sugar puts you at risk for serious health problems, including:

Getting diabetes

About 1 in 3 people with prediabetes get diabetes within 5 years. Diabetes can lead to serious health problems like kidney disease and blindness if it’s not managed well.

Having a heart attack or stroke

Even if you don’t get diabetes, high blood sugar makes you more likely to have these life-threatening events.

Related: The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Steps you can take now to protect your health

Simple changes to your daily habits can lower blood sugar in people with prediabetes. These changes can delay—and even prevent—the onset of diabetes and other problems. Here’s where to start:

  • Be more physically active every day. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week.
  • Make healthy food choices. Eat fewer processed carbohydrates (like white bread and sugar cereals) and choose more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Lose a little weight. Losing 5 to 7% of your body weight can lower your blood sugar and protect your health.
  • Meet with a dietitian. A registered dietitian can help you make an eating plan that’s right for you.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Have your doctor test your blood sugar every 6 to 12 months to see how you’re doing and check your overall health.

Prediabetes is like a warning shot to take note and make changes. This is good news. Now, go forth and start living the healthier life you deserve. 

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Reference: “Prediabetes: Act now to protect your health.” Intermountain Health, 2017. Web. 5 Jun. 2019.

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