Are You Prediabetic?

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

Almost 10 percent of Americans are diabetic, according to the American Diabetes Association. And of those 29.1 million diabetics, 8.1 million don’t even know they have the disease—they’re undiagnosed, according to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report. Those numbers could explode soon, though: According to the same report, 86 million Americans over the age of 19 have a condition called prediabetes, meaning they could soon join the ranks of the diabetic. And many of those prediabetics have no idea they’re at such high risk to tip over into Type 2 territory. But first thing’s first: What does the question, “Are you prediabetic?” even mean?

“It means your blood sugar levels are no longer in the normal range,” says Linda Delahanty, a member of Nutrisystem’s Science Advisory Board and a nationally-recognized expert on how to modify nutrition and lifestyle to treat diabetes and obesity. “They’ve gone above normal, but they’re not yet in the diabetes range.”

Normal blood glucose levels, when tested in the morning after fasting, should range between 70 to 100 mg/dl. If the levels are above 126 mg/dl, you’re in the diabetes range. A reading between 101-125 means you have prediabetes. This range means a person is at a very high risk of becoming a diabetic.

The good news? It can be reversed, Delahanty says. With proper diet and exercise, many prediabetics go back to the normal range, and many more of those who don’t go back to normal at least don’t progress into the diabetes range. “People who lost 7 percent of their weight—an average of 10 pounds—and exercised for 150 minutes per week in 30-minute sessions had a 58 percent risk reduction,” she says. “That means they didn’t progress to Type 2 diabetes.” Other prediabetics on the same lifestyle intervention program went back to the normal range. The difference? “They caught it earlier,” Delahanty says. “The earlier you know, the more powerful the intervention can be.”

If you’re looking to detect prediabetes, a blood test is a must: it provides the ultimate answer. If you’re not usually quick to head to the doctor, check out the following list of risk factors from Delahanty. If one or more of these sounds like you, it may be time for an appointment to see if you’re prediabetic.

You may be at risk if you:

  • Are 45 or older.
  • Are overweight or obese, with a body mass index (BMI) over 25.
  • Have a waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men, 35 inches for women.
  • Have a parent or sibling with diabetes.
  • Are of Asian, African-American, Latino, or Native American descent.
  • Gave birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds—even if it was a long time ago.
  • Are physically inactive.
  • Have high blood pressure.
  • Have chronic sleep deprivation—less than 6 hours per night—or obstructed sleep apnea.
  • Are depressed.

There are other risk factors—triglycerides higher than 250, atherescloerosis (hardening of the arteries), and low HDL levels—that your doctor will recognize. But if the list above includes conditions that match yours, consider asking a doctor to test your blood sugar for prediabetes.