April 01, 2020

Prediabetes

A diabetes warning sign

For most people, a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes comes later in life. It can be a wake-up call in terms of how seriously you are taking your lifestyle and its impact on your health. But for some, that wake-up call may come much earlier. Thanks to a new focus on identifying those at high risk of diabetes earlier, the disease can be predicted and even prevented before long-term complications have developed.

One-third of all Americans 18 and older and almost half the adults over 65 are thought to have a condition called prediabetes, which occurs due to insulin resistance. Yet only a small fraction of people with prediabetes are aware of it.

The most serious risk of prediabetes is that if it's unchecked, it usually leads to type 2 diabetes, with its associated heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye damage and nerve problems such as peripheral neuropathy. Research suggests that among people 60 and older, weight loss, dietary change and physical activity are the most effective measures in addressing prediabetes and preventing a transition to type 2 diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is an umbrella term for a group of diseases — type 2 diabetes is by far the most common — that affect the way your body uses blood sugar (glucose). If you have diabetes, it means you have too much glucose in your blood. Too much glucose can eventually result in serious health issues.

Glucose is vital to your health because it's the main source of energy for...