Prediabetes means the amount of glucose, a type of sugar, in your blood is higher than normal and you are at much higher risk of getting diabetes.
Our bodies need a constant source of glucose for our cells to convert into energy. Complex hormone and digestive systems keep the level of glucose in the bloodstream within the ideal range.
- Every time we eat more than our bodies need for energy, our bodies store the excess.
- This excess is stored in our organs and tissues as fat.
- Over time, this excess keeps building up and damages key organs such as our pancreas and liver.
- Our bodies can no longer keep the blood glucose levels at the right level and they start to rise.
- If you don't take action to reverse this process, the damage continues and you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The greatest risk factor for prediabetes is obesity. Finding out you you have prediabetes can be an opportunity to take action and stop this progressing to type 2 diabetes.
Who should be tested for prediabetes?
You won't know if you have prediabetes as there are no obvious symptoms during this stage. See your doctor or nurse for a diabetes screening test if you are in any of the high risk groups below.
- Obese children and young adults (BMI ≥ 30 kgm-2 or ≥27 kg m-2 in Indo-Asian) with a family history of early onset type 2 diabetes OR you are of Māori, Pacific or Indo-Asian ethnicity.
- Adults who are obese (BMI ≥30; or BMI ≥27 for Indian subcontinent peoples), especially in those with a family history of type 2 diabetes.
- Women with a history of gestational diabetes mellitus or a large baby (birth weight 4.5 kg or more).
- Teenagers and adults with a family history of type 2 diabetes in two or more first degree relatives (parents or siblings).
- Adults on long term steroid or antipsychotic treatment.
- Adults with ischaemic heart disease (angina or myocardial infarction), cerebrovascular disease or peripheral vascular disease.
- Everyone else as they become due for a cardiovascular risk assessment at age 35, 45 or 55.
If you are overweight, the number one thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing diabetes is lose weight and be physically active. Studies show reducing your weight by 5 to 10 percent can prevent, delay or even reverse prediabetes.
So if you weigh 100 kg and can reduce this to 90–95 kg, your risk of progressing on to develop diabetes is more than halved.
- You can lose weight by cutting the amount of calories and fat you consume.
- Be physically active for at least 30 to 60 minutes every day.
- Physical activity also helps your body use the hormone insulin properly. Your body needs insulin to use glucose for energy.
- Medicine can also help control the amount of glucose in your blood. Ask your doctor if medicine to control glucose is right for you.