Director of Nutrition and Dietary Services at Nutrisystem
It is estimated that about one-third of the individuals in the US with type 2 diabetes are not aware of it. Likely a similar percent (or higher) of individuals with prediabetes are not aware of this condition either. While the number of individuals in the US with type 2 diabetes is currently estimated to be 25.8 million, the estimate for prediabetes is a staggering 79 million (1). If you are overweight, you could be one of the 79 million.
You may not have any symptoms. In order to determine if you have prediabetes, you need to have a fasting blood sugar screening or an A1c test. Normal fasting blood sugars are below 100 mg/dl. To be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, doctors look for the threshold of 126 mg/dl. If fasting blood sugars are between 100 and 125, it is an indication of prediabetes. If your doctor does not speak of it, ask “What is my risk for prediabetes?”
The top risk factor is obesity or overweight. As the body accumulates more fat cells, a condition known as insulin resistance develops, where the body does not use insulin efficiently. This situation causes blood sugars to rise. (Insulin is the hormone that lowers blood sugar.)
Sedentary lifestyle is the second risk factor that can contribute to elevated blood sugars. Exercise causes the body to use blood glucose for energy, improving blood sugars. For those with prediabetes or diabetes, daily exercise is recommended.
A family history of diabetes or
gestational diabetes will increase your risk.
According to the CDC, “Studies have shown that people with prediabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and in some cases return their blood glucose levels to normal.” (1) Making changes in your lifestyle can prevent complications, so that is why it is so vital to know early. By the time individuals are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there can already be microvascular complications. Prediabetes increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. But by knowing early, you can start to reverse the condition with weight loss, a nutritious meal plan and exercise.
Nutrisystem is here to help.
(1) National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2011, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).