Prediabetes is a condition that can progress to type 2 diabetes.
Research shows that this progression occurs in about 25% of people with prediabetes within 3-5 years in trusted sources. Overall, 70% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes at some point in their lives.
Doctors may also refer to borderline diabetes as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.
This article looks at how to recognize risk factors for prediabetes, manage the condition, and prevent developing type 2 diabetes.
Borderline diabetes does not have clear symptoms. Some people may not be aware that they have it until:
- a doctor performs a blood glucose test and urinalysis
- it has progressed to type 2 diabetes
- a complication occurs, such as a heart attack
If a person’s blood sugar levels remain high, they may begin to develop some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. These include frequent urination and increased thirst.
However, most people will not know they have prediabetes until they are tested.
Causes and Risk Factors
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), a range of other conditions and factors can increase the risk of prediabetes, including:
- Obesity, especially when it involves a large waist size.
- High blood pressure
- High levels of triglycerides, a type of fat
- Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol
- Low levels of physical activity
- People with a family history of type 2 diabetes may also be at increased risk, suggesting that genetics play a role.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the following lifestyle factors may also increase the risk of prediabetes in some people:
- raised stress levels
- drinking too much alcohol
Regular consumption of high-sugar drinks may also increase the risk. A 2017 review found that people who regularly drink sugary drinks are more likely to suffer from metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure and high levels of blood glucose and triglycerides. These metabolic conditions can lead to prediabetes and diabetes.
People who lead inactive lifestyles are also at risk of taking in too many calories without burning through exercise.
Other people who may be at risk of developing prediabetes include those who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or have experienced high blood sugar levels in the past.
Anyone with any of these risk factors can benefit from pre-diabetes screening to determine if they have the condition.
A doctor usually uses a blood test to diagnose prediabetes. A glucose tolerance test is particularly useful because it measures how quickly the body can process blood sugar over a 2-hour period.
Other options include the fasting blood test, which measures blood sugar levels after a person has not eaten for a specified period of time, and the A1C test, which measures average blood sugar levels over 2-3 months. Measures surface. The A1C test does not require people to fast or take any special liquids or medications, and it gives reliable results.
The American Diabetes Association says a doctor will diagnose prediabetes when test results show the following measurements:
- fasting blood sugar levels of 100–125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)
- glucose tolerance levels of 140–199 mg/dl
- an A1C test result of 5.7–6.4%
A doctor will often re-test these levels to confirm that the readings are not due to one-off spikes in blood sugar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we answer some commonly asked questions about prediabetes.
Which Foods should I Eat if I have Prediabetes?
Fat and fiber slow absorption and lower what is called the glycemic index (GI) of a food. Low-GI fruits and vegetables, such as stone-ground whole-wheat bread, rolled or steel-cut oatmeal, non-starchy vegetables, and whole fruits are good choices. Experts consider a low GI food to have a rating of 55 or less. A person can use this database to find the GI of common foods.
What are the Complications of Prediabetes?
Even if it doesn’t progress to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes can cause long-term cardiovascular and kidney damage.
Can Children have Prediabetes?
In a 2019 study of 5,786 people, 18% of 2,606 youth — ages 12-18 — had prediabetes. Among 3,180 young adults, the prevalence was 24 percent.
Many children who develop type 2 diabetes are not diagnosed until adulthood. This is, in part, because puberty hormones can make it harder for the body to regulate insulin. Parents and caregivers can help children prevent diabetes by eating a balanced diet and engaging in sufficient physical activity.
Can Prediabetes Progress to Type 1 Diabetes?
Prediabetes refers to a metabolic condition that is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. It cannot form in type 1 diabetes. However, there is research into a parallel disease called pre-type 1 diabetes, in which a person’s immune system shows certain characteristics that indicate progression to type 1 diabetes.