Pre Diabetes – You Didn’t See This Coming Did You?

pre diabetesAdmit it, you are a little apprehensive about pre-diabetes, aren’t you? All the questions: what is the pre diabetes diet? What signs and symptoms did I miss? What is the treatment?

Incredibly, in 2010 79 million Americans had pre-diabetes. This represents and increase of almost 39% since 2007. WOW!

Yet, most of them are surprised to find out.

The condition occurs when a person’s blood glucose readings are elevated above normal, but lower than is considered a diagnosis of diabetes. This condition almost always exists in people prior to developing type 2 diabetes.

The condition was previously known as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG). Either name referred to whatever test was used to determine the elevated glucose in the body. The name change is simply meant to clarify the condition and more fully describe its relationship to diabetes.

What are the Benefits of Early Detection?

Early detection and diagnosis is paramount for two critical reasons. First, studies show that long term damage can occur during pre-diabetes, particularly to the cardiovascular system. People with the condition are 1.5 times more risk of developing cardiovascular disease, than a person with normal glucose levels. Early detection and treatment can minimize this damage. Second, early action can delay and even prevent it from developing into type 2 diabetes.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Interestingly, it is estimated that millions of people are unaware that they have the condition. The signs or symptoms can be very subtle.

Signs or Symptoms include:

  • Unusual Thirst
  • Frequent Desire to Urinate
  • Blurred Vision
  • Unexplained Fatigue

Additionally, if a person has the following characteristics, a test is recommended:

  • Genetic (family) History of Diabetes
  • Ethnic Background (defined below)
  • Overweight and Over 45 years old.
  • Overweight and under 45 years old (if other issues present such as high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides, prior gestational diabetes, delivering a baby over 9 pounds, and any of the other signs or risk characteristics mentioned above).

Who Is at Greater Risk?

Like all forms of diabetes, pre-diabetes can strike at all ages and races. Nonetheless, certain groups have a higher than average risk of contracting the condition. Ethnic groups with elevated risk include African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Those over weight and over 45 years old also have elevated risk.

What are the Diagnosing Tests?

The FPG test measures a person’s glucose level in the morning before eating. A normal fasting glucose level is below 100 mg/dL. A positive result is defined by a level between 100 and 125 mg/dL. Above 126 mg/dL level is defined as diabetes. If you tested positive with this test, you were said to have Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG).

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). The OGTT measures the glucose level after a fast, then again two hours after a person has consumed a glucose drink. A normal glucose level two hours after consuming the drink is below 140 mg/dL. A positive result is defined by a level between 140 and 199 mg/dL. Above 200 mg/dL is defined as diabetes. If you tested positive with this test, you were said to have Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT).

Testing should be done every three years if your blood glucose is normal. If you have the condition, you should be tested every 1-2 years. If you want to learn more about your Readings and A1c Numbers check this article out.

UPDATE: In 2010, the ADA added the A1C test as a diagnostic tool for identifying people with diabetes and with the high risk of developing diabetes. A reading between 6 percent and 6.5 percent is high risk, while a 6.5 percent result or above is considered to have diabetes.


Ok, so you have it, How is it Pre-Diabetes Treated?

The basic treatment for pre-diabetes consists of a healthy diabetes diet and exercise. Of paramount importance is maintaining the appropriate weight. Most people need to lose about 5-10 percent of their current weight, approximately 10-15 pounds. This weight loss is very important. A proper diet, exercise and weight can reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 58 percent.

One study on the Mediterranean Diet and diabetes even found that a particular diet and exercise program could lower the risk of developing diabetes (even in high risk people) by 83 percent!

Modest exercise can be as simple as walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Many people can even return to normal blood glucose levels. As cardiovascular disease is a greater risk for diabetics and pre-diabetics, a doctor usually discourages risk factors such as tobacco use, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Check with your local public health board about receiving a DVD on the condition.


As alluded to above, the pre diabetes diet is critical to progressing to diabetes. However, how do you choose the right diet? What exactly is the right pre diabetes diet? Take a look here!

Diabetes PCOS Link

PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is estimated that as many as 30% of women could have the condition and it is often a direct pre-cursor to diabetes. If you are a woman, especially if you are overweight, you need to read this PCOS article.


American Diabetes Association,, Pre-Diabetes (Accessed December 2008).
National Institute of Health Publication No. 09-5099, Diabetes Prevention Program, October 2008 (Accessed December 2008).
National Institute of Health Publication No. 06-5334, Small Steps Big Rewards, October 2006 (Accessed December 2008).
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed January 2013.