Prediabetes: 5 things you need to know

UCLA Health article

About 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:

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 3 months. An A1c between 5.7% and 6.4% means prediabetes, and an A1c of 6.5% or greater means Type 2 diabetes.

It is very common

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 84 million American adults, or 1 in 3, have prediabetes. However, 9 out of 10 of them don’t know they have it.

You won’t necessarily ever get diabetes

Even if your Ac1 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.

Prediabetes is reversible

If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, you can often get your blood sugar under control and within a normal range by following these steps:

  • lose about 10 pounds, or 5% of your body weight if you weigh 200 pounds or more
  • exercise regularly
  • cut out simple carbohydrates from your diet, such as juice, soda, chips and sweets

Help is available

If you have prediabetes or are at 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 patients can also work with a registered dietitian or attend a referral-based diabetes education program. Contact the UCLA Diabetes Program to schedule an appointment or ask your provider for a referral.


This content ran in the Winter 2019 issue of The Checkup, a UCLA Health community newsletter on how to live your healthiest life.