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Prediabetes: Am I at risk?

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 of every 3 US adults had prediabetes in 2010. That is 79 million Americans aged 20 years or older. The vast majority of people living with prediabetes do not know they have it. A person with prediabetes has a blood sugar level higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

Prediabetes is a serious health condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

  • 79 million Americans—35% of adults aged 20 years and older—have prediabetes.
  • Half of all Americans aged 65 years and older have prediabetes.
  • Without lifestyle changes to improve their health, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

How can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

Research shows that modest weight loss and regular physical activity can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by up to 58% in people with prediabetes. Modest weight loss means 5% to 7% of body weight, which is 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Getting at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity, such as brisk walking, also is important.

The lifestyle change program offered through the National Diabetes Prevention Program—led by CDC—can help participants adopt the healthy habits needed to prevent type 2 diabetes. Trained lifestyle coaches lead classes to help participants improve their food choices, increase physical activity, and learn coping skills to maintain weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes.

Many factors increase your risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. To find out more about your risk, see which characteristics in this list apply to you.

  • I am 45 years of age or older.
  • I am overweight.
  • I have a parent with diabetes.
  • I have a sister or brother with diabetes.
  • My family background is African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American-Indian, Asian-American, or Pacific-Islander.
  • I had diabetes while I was pregnant (gestational diabetes), or I gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
  • I am physically active less than three times a week.

It is important to find out early if you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, because early treatment can prevent serious problems that diabetes can cause, such as loss of eyesight or kidney damage.

Find out if you could have prediabetes by taking the online quiz on this page. If the quiz shows you could have prediabetes, talk to a health care provider as soon as possible. You also can download and print a copy at Prediabetes Screening Test [PDF-758 KB] or Cuestionario para la detección de la prediabetes [PDF-455 KB].

If you are 45 years of age or older, you should consider getting a blood test from a health care provider for prediabetes and diabetes, especially if you are overweight.

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How to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes

  • Fasting glucose test. This measures blood glucose in people who have not eaten anything for at least eight hours. Fasting glucose levels of 100 to 125 mg/dL are diagnostic of impaired fasting glucose (IFG), also called prediabetes. People with IFG often have had insulin resistance for some time and are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes
  • Glucose tolerance test. This test measures blood glucose after people fast for at least eight hours, and two hours after they drink a sweet liquid provided by a doctor or laboratory. A blood glucose level between 140 and 199 mg/dL is called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) also called prediabetes. Like IFG, it points toward a history of insulin resistance and a risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Hemoglobin A1c test. This test measures the amount of glucose that is on the red blood cells. Fasting is not necessary. An A1c value of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes.

If your blood test results indicate you have prediabetes you should enroll in an evidence-based lifestyle change program to lower your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Studies show that people with prediabetes can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing 5% to 7% of their weight—that is 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Weight loss should be achieved by making modest lifestyle changes to improve nutrition and increase physical activity.

People whose test results indicate they have prediabetes should have their blood glucose levels checked again in 6 months to 1 year.

Make a change for life! Find out if there is a National Diabetes Prevention Program offered in your community.

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