Prediabetes Harmful, Yet Few Know About it
One-third of adult Americans now have a condition known as “prediabetes“, where they have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, yet few people even know what it is, according to a newly reported survey.
If not treated, prediabetes can lead to full-blown type 2 diabetes.
In fact, each year, 11 percent of Americans with prediabetes who do not lose weight and exercise regularly will develop type 2 diabetes within three years of being diagnosed with prediabetes.
Type 2 diabetes affects the way your body uses sugar (glucose), your body’s main source of fuel. Your body does one of two things: it resists the effects of insulin, a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells. Or, it doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. Untreated, type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on prediabetes indicates that awareness about it is low among all age and socioeconomic groups, even those at risk for the condition. Only 14 percent of people even knew what prediabetes is in a large survey taken during 2009 to 2010, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Overweight, Older Age Increase Risk
According to the American Diabetes Association, you are at risk of prediabetes if you are overweight and over age 45, and should talk to your doctor about getting tested. If you are overweight and younger than age 45, you may need to be tested for prediabetes if you have other risk factors such as:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- high triglycerides
- a family history of diabetes
- a history of gestational diabetes
The CDC recommends better public and patient education about prediabetes, and encourages health professionals to screen people with risk factors. “Modest” lifestyle changes, such as those outlined in a federal program “Just One Step” can help prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes.
Examples of those changes include losing a small amount of weight, such as 15 pounds, and walking for 30 minutes three times a week.