Pre-diabetes describes a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, although not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes has no signs or symptoms. People with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular (heart and circulation) disease. Two million Australians have pre-diabetes and are at high-risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Without sustained lifestyle changes, including healthy eating, increased activity and losing weight, approximately one in three people with pre-diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.
There are two pre-diabetes conditions:
- Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
- Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) is where blood glucose levels are escalated in the fasting state but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
- It is possible to have both Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG) and Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)
Risk factors for pre-diabetes are similar to those for type 2 diabetes which are:
- Being overweight – especially those who have excess weight around the waistline (ie: more than 94cm for men and more than 80cm for women).
- Being physically inactive.
- Having high triglycerides and low HDL-C (good cholesterol) and/or high total cholesterol.
- Having high blood pressure.
- Having a family history of type 2 diabetes and/or heart disease.
Other people at risk include:
- Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome*.
- Women who have had diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or given birth to a big baby (more than 4.5kgs).
- Those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.
- Those from certain ethnic backgrounds such as the Pacific Islands, Asia and the Indian sub-continent.
If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, the treatment involves the same lifestyle changes that are recommended for people diagnosed with diabetes. For most, this will include regular physical activity, healthy eating and if necessary losing weight.
You can learn about the type 2 diabetes prevention programs available in your state here.
People with pre-diabetes are also at increased risk of heart disease, so controlling blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglycerides is also important.
A healthy eating plan for losing weight and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes should include a reduction in total energy (kilojoule) and fat intake, particularly saturated fat foods such as butter, full fat dairy products, fatty meats, takeaway foods, biscuits, cakes and pastries. Instead choose a wide range of high fibre, low GI carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes and fruit. To work out a meal plan that’s right for you, visit an accredited practicing dietitian.