About Prediabetes & Type 2 Diabetes
Eighty-six million Americans now have prediabetes—that’s 1 out of 3 adults! Of those 86 million, 9 out of 10 of them don’t even know they have it.
Without intervention, many people with prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
With numbers like that, it’s important to learn about prediabetes and take action.
Read the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report [PDF-5.31MB] to learn more about the toll that diabetes is taking in the United States.
What Are Prediabetes and Diabetes?
Having prediabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal—but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes. Prediabetes can often be reversed.
With type 2 diabetes, your body cannot properly use insulin (a hormone that helps glucose get into the cells of the body). You can get type 2 diabetes at any age, but you are at higher risk if you are older, overweight, have a family history of diabetes, are not physically active, or are a woman who had gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that some women get when they are pregnant. Even if a woman’s blood sugar levels go down after her baby is born, she is at higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes later in life.
With type 1 diabetes, your body cannot make insulin, so you need to take insulin every day. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes; about 5% of the people who have diabetes have type 1. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
To learn more about the basics of diabetes and prediabetes, visit CDC’s Diabetes website.
Who Is at Risk for Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes?
If you have these risk factors, you may be at higher risk than others for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- You are overweight.
- You are 45 years of age or older.
- Your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- You are physically active fewer than 3 times per week.
- You ever gave birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds.
- You ever had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes).
Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.
If you are at risk, talk to a health care professional about getting a blood sugar test.
Why Should You Do Something About Prediabetes?
Don’t let the “pre” in prediabetes fool you into thinking it’s not really a problem now. You can take action right away to help prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes. You can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke associated with prediabetes.
Many people with prediabetes who do not change their lifestyle—by losing weight (if needed) and being more physically active—will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years. Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health issues such as:
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Loss of toes, feet, or legs
In addition, some of the risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes—like being overweight and not being physically active—can make you feel sluggish and affect your mood. Positive lifestyle changes not only lower your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, they can improve your overall well-being and the well-being of your family.
You Can Prevent Type 2 Diabetes—How Can You Get Started?
If you have prediabetes, join a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program. It can help you lose weight, become more active, and prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. To learn more about diabetes prevention, visit Research-Based Prevention Program.
Ready to make a change? Go to Find a Program to get started today!
Albright A, Gregg EW. Preventing type 2 diabetes in communities across the US: the National Diabetes Prevention Program. Am J Prev Med 2013;44(4):S346-S351. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4539613/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014. Available from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf [PDF- 5.9MB].
Knowler WC, Barrett-Conner E, Fowler SE, et al.; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med 2002;346:393–403. Available from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa012512#t=articleTop.
- Page last reviewed: May 26, 2017
- Page last updated: May 26, 2017
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