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Patients with Pre-diabetes Benefit from Early Diagnosis and Intervention

Shay Morrigan | May 13th, 2013

Pre Diabetes DietAccording to the American Diabetes Association, 79 million people had pre diabetes in 2011. Considered a warning sign for type 2 diabetes, pre diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as full-blown diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that patients with prediabetes who fail to make lifestyle changes to turn their health around are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes within five years. They are also at a higher risk of related health problems like heart disease and stroke. Other studies, however, have shown that patients who lose weight and increase regular physical activity can prevent or delay the progression to diabetes.

Dr. Michael Kaplan, medical director of the Center for Medical Weight Loss—a national network of weight loss physicians—reports, “We see diabetic patients all the time who lose weight and no longer need insulin. When patients lose 5% – 10% of their body weight, it is a given that they will reduce their blood sugar significantly; many no longer need medication.”

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes similar to those for pre diabetes

Specifically, pre diabetes is defined as having a blood sugar level of 126 mg/dl or greater on two separate occasions. Full-blown type 2 diabetes is defined as having a blood sugar level of 200 mg/dl or more on two separate occasions.

Unfortunately, prediabetes rarely creates symptoms, so those who have it are likely not aware of it. According to a recent study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in March 2013, only 11 percent of people with the condition know they have it.

The only way to know for sure is to have your blood sugar tested. In some cases, however, patients may notice the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination

Even if you don’t notice any symptoms, you may be aware of certain risk factors for the disease. These are similar to the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Age 45 and older
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle; limited exercise
  • Race—African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders are more at risk
  • Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Having high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol
  • Regular lack of sleep
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

Those who have one or more of these risk factors for type 2 diabetes may want to talk with a phsyician about testing for pre-diabetes.

Adopting a pre diabetes diet

The good thing about a pre-diabetes diagnosis is that it gives individuals a chance to turn their health around. A nationwide study published in August 2001 showed that those with risk factors for type 2 diabetes were able to reduce their risk by 58 percent through modest weight loss and increased moderate-intensity exercise—such as taking a daily 30-minute walk.

A prediabetes diet typically includes more broiled and fewer fried foods, lean proteins, and an increased amount of fruits and vegetables. Patients who work with a medical professional may experience more success than those who don’t, since trained instructors can teach patients about the steps they can take to improve their health.

Dr. Michael Kaplan, of the Center for Medical Weight Loss, reports that, “A physician-directed weight loss program provides customized diet and exercise plans based on an individual’s needs and medical history. The average person in the program loses 28 pounds in 12 weeks.”

The authors of the CDC study made similar recommendations, stating that early identification of pre diabetes is a critical first step “to encourage those with the condition to make healthy lifestyle changes or to enroll in evidence-based, lifestyle-changing programs aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes.”

  1. American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Statistics,

  2. Centers for Disease Control, Prediabetes - Diabetes & Me - Diabetes DDT,

  3. NDEP, Diabetes and Prediabetes Statistics and Facts,

  4. MayoClinic, Prediabetes: Symptoms,

  5. Joslin Diabetes Center, What is Pre-diabetes?

  6. American Medical News, Teaching adults about prediabetes an uphill battle,