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Prediabetes Symptoms & Treatment

Prediabetes Risk: It’s Time for Action

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Have you been told you have prediabetes? If you are living with prediabetes, you’re not alone!

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 86 million Americans have prediabetes. This figure is on top of the 29 million Americans estimated to have diabetes.

Yes, WOW! That’s 51 percent of adults over 65 with prediabetes. Yet, according to CDC estimates, only 11 percent of people with prediabetes know they have it.

If you’ve been told you have prediabetes or have a sneaking suspicion you do, take action to prevent or delay the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. Large studies conducted around the globe and in the U.S show that if you can detect prediabetes early and then lose and keep off some weight, you can possibly slow down its progression.

But first, gain some knowledge.

What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a health condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Don’t ignore prediabetes. Research shows that every year 11 percent of people with prediabetes who don’t change their ways to live a healthier lifestyle may develop type 2 diabetes in the following three years.

Prediabetes Risk Factors:

  • Age 45 or older
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes (parent or sibling)
  • Member of an ethnic group with increased risk: African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Diagnosed with gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • Diagnosed with high blood pressure
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Overweight or obese

Know for Sure
Take the American Diabetes Association Risk Test ( for starters. This online screening can give you a read on your risk level. If you’re at high risk follow up with your healthcare provider.

Know the Numbers:

*Does not apply to pregnant women and gestational diabetes.
**If the results from one test are not convincingly indicative of the diagnosis, then a repeat test should be done on a different day.

Now, Take Action
To get your best shot at slowing the progression of pre-diabetes and/or helping to avoid the development of diabetes*, take these few actions now:

  • Lose a few (or more!) pounds and keep them off: You don’t need to lose lots of weight. Losing about five to seven percent from your starting body weight and maintaining that weight loss over time has been shown to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some tips for  helping to reduce weight: 
    • Start by assessing your current eating habits and how to lighten your calorie load. For example, you can save hundreds of calories a day by switching from regular soda to diet varieties. And if you usually sweeten your coffee and tea (whether hot or iced) with sugar, switch to a sugar substitute like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener.
    • If you think diet beverages may make you gain weight, think again. Recent research from the National Weight Control Registry, a registry of thousands of people who have lost weight and kept it off for several years, showed that of a sampling of over 400 individuals, the majority of them regularly drink low calorie sweetened beverages.
    • Next, lighten up on fats and oils. Fat is a concentrated source of calories. Use less salad dressing, butter, sour cream, cream cheese and the like.
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables. They’re loaded with nutrients and can fill your plates and many are light on calories.
    • Eat fewer sweets. Satisfy your sweet tooth with lower calorie options including select baked goods made with SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener. SPLENDA® Sweeteners can be used just about anywhere sugar is used in baking and cooking. Get helpful cooking and baking tips: or read this blog post.
  • Become physically active: Exercise is your second powerful weapon to help your body have better glucose control and possibly slow the progression of type 2 diabetes. Exercise can be particularly important in weight loss strategies and for keeping off those lost pounds.  But, another benefit is that exercise can help to improve your blood glucose levels directly, by making your body more sensitive to the insulin it makes. Increased exercise can also help to lower blood pressure and improve blood fat.

I want to emphasize the importance of aerobic activity. The aerobic activity that most people find they can fit into their busy life is walking. If you don’t do any walking now, just start with 10 minutes here and there. Aim for an accumulated total of about 30 minutes a day most days a week. Sneak in exercise by taking simple actions like parking farther from your destination, using a bathroom farther away from your desk, walking the stairs rather than taking the elevator. You get the picture!

Yes, learning more about prediabetes, taking preventative steps early such as making a few changes in your eating and exercise habits, may help you lessen your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

*Though you may have recently heard reports in the media about a study claiming that one or more low calorie sweeteners can raise glucose levels in people at risk of diabetes, this is not consistent with existing research. So you are aware, this study was mainly done in mice with saccharin and cannot be broadly applied to human use. Also, this is just one small study with significant study design flaws. Its results need to be viewed within decades of existing animal and human studies and regulatory approvals which have shown that low calorie sweeteners do not raise glucose and insulin levels – and that these sweeteners can safely and effectively be used to manage calorie intake as part of a healthy eating pattern. Read more about this study and glucose control at this resource: 

Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, BC-ADM, is a nationally recognized dietitian and diabetes educator who applies nearly 35 years of expertise as an author, freelance writer, media spokesperson, consultant and diabetes educator. Hope notes: “Healthy eating today is one tough job! The good news is simple tweaks in your food choices and how you prepare foods can often set you on a path to healthier eating. A step in the right direction for a long and healthy life.”


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  • CDC, National Diabetes Statistics Report – 2014
  • Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group 10-year follow-up of diabetes incidence and weight loss in the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study. The Lancet. 2009;374(9702):1677–1686.
  • Knowler WC, Barrett-Conner E, Fowler SE, et al; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med 2002;346:393–403.
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  • Catenacci, V. A., Pan, Z., Thomas, J. G., Ogden, L. G., Roberts, S. A., Wyatt, H. R., Wing, R. R. and Hill, J. O. (2014), Low/No calorie sweetened beverage consumption in the national weight control registry. Obesity. doi: 10.1002/oby.20834
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