Prediabetes: Type 2 Isn't Inevitable

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As of 2019, 96 million Americans over the age of 18 have prediabetesroughly 38% of the U.S. population. Even more eye-opening is that nine out of 10 people do not know they have it. Overlake Diabetes Nurse Educator Lisa Levinson, RN, CDCES, discusses how prediabetes is defined, who is most at risk, when to be tested and what to do if you are diagnosed.

Q: What is prediabetes?

A: Prediabetes typically has no symptoms and occurs when blood glucose (blood sugar) values are higher than usual but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Prediabetes increases the risk for developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The good news is that you can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes with healthy lifestyle changes.

Q: What are some of the risk factors for developing prediabetes?

A: Those with a higher risk of developing prediabetes include:

  • Women with a history of gestational diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • Anyone with a close relative (parent, sibling) with Type 2 diabetes.
  • Members of high-risk ethnic groups, including African American, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander.
  • Those over 45 years of age who are physically inactive and/or overweight.
Q: When should you be tested for prediabetes?

A: Discuss testing for prediabetes with your healthcare provider if you have any of the risk factors mentioned above. Your provider may recommend a fasting blood glucose test, glucose tolerance test or hemoglobin A1c.

Q:  How do you avoid developing Type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes?

A: If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, know that developing Type 2 is not inevitable. Getting enough exercise, focusing on good nutrition and minimizing stress can help you avoid getting Type 2 diabetes. Here are some tips on how you can incorporate exercise, good nutrition and stress management into your lifestyle.


Engage in some type of physical activity for a minimum 150 minutes weekly. Always consult with your healthcare provider prior to making any changes to your current activity level. Activity can be broken into 2030minute sessions five days a week. For instance, rather than one 30minute walk, you can go for a shorter walk in the morning and do light housework in the afternoon. You can change it up and do different types of activities. The key is to not go more than two days without doing some kind of exercise.

The next several months will be cold; it will be dark later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon. Plus, working from home may present obstacles, such as time constraints. How can you be sure to get up and move throughout the day?

Some Things to Consider with Exercise

  1. Talk with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your current activity level.
  2. Set attainable goals.
  3. Consistency is key; avoid going more than two days without some type of exercise.
  4. Exercise may be broken into smaller sessions throughout the day.
  5. A 57% weight loss can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Eat three healthy meals daily.
  • Fill half of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, fill one quarter of your plate with protein and fill one quarter of your plate with carbohydrates (beans and legumes, starchy vegetables, grains, etc.).
  • Avoid fad diets.
  • Look for sustainable meal plans.
  • You can still have foods that you enjoy.
  • Read food labels.
  • Avoid skipping or delaying meals.
  • Aim for five servings of fruits/vegetables a day.
  • Choose whole grains and more plant-based foods.
  • Avoid beverages high in sugar.
  • If you have a treat or a meal heavy in carbohydrates, which may cause glucose values to rise, time exercise after the meal or snack.
Stress Management

Understand that stress—be it physical or emotional—may cause elevations in blood glucose. Be sure to stay hydrated, get rest, eat healthful meals as mentioned above, and find time to relax throughout the day. Now more than ever, it is important to take the time to engage in self-care.

Overlake offers one-on-one education as well as two-part classes to help people learn practical skills to manage diabetes, including medication, meal planning, glucose monitoring and more. Classes are taught by certified diabetes educators. Please see your healthcare provider for a referral. Learn more about diabetes education at Overlake or call 425.688.5111.

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