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Prediabetes: 5 things you need to know

Just over 30 million people in the United States—or 1 in 10—have diabetes. Most have Type 2 diabetes, which may be preventable and takes years to develop as blood sugar levels increase.

On the path to Type 2 diabetes, many people are first diagnosed with a reversible condition called prediabetes. Risk factors for both conditions include being overweight, being physically inactive and having a family history of diabetes. Here is what you need to know:

  1. Prediabetes means your blood sugar is elevated
    People diagnosed with prediabetes have blood sugar levels higher than normal on a glucose tolerance test or a hemoglobin A1c test, which measures blood sugar control over three months. An A1c between 5.7% and 6.4% is in the prediabetic range, and an A1c of 6.5% or greater means Type 2 diabetes.

  2. It is very common
    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 84 million American adults, or 1 in 3, prediabetic. However, 9 out of 10 of them don’t know it.

  3. You won’t necessarily ever get diabetes
    Even if your A1c is in the prediabetic range, it won’t necessarily ever tip into the diabetic range, especially if you make positive lifestyle changes to turn things around.

  4. It is also reversible
    If you are prediabetic, you can get your blood sugar under control and within a normal range by losing about 10 pounds, or 5% of your body weight if you weigh 200 pounds or more; exercising regularly; and cutting out simple carbohydrates, such as juice, soda, chips and sweets.

  5. Help is available
    If you have prediabetes or are at an increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, your primary care physician can provide resources on diet and exercise to help you manage or reverse this condition. UCLA Health can also work with a registered dietitian or attend a referral-based diabetes education program.

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