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Shelly Barnes: What to know and do about pre-diabetes

Shelly Barnes • Updated May 2, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Diabetes is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about health issues in the U.S. It is estimated about one-in-three adults in the U.S. has what is known as “pre-diabetes.” But what can you do to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes?

So, what exactly does “pre-diabetes” mean?

The term “pre-diabetes” means that a person has blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, just not as high as the levels of a person with full-blown diabetes.

Why is it important to understand pre-diabetes?

People with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. The good news is that people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the occurrence of type 2 diabetes by regular physical activity and healthy eating.

How do you know if you have pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes can be diagnosed with a simple blood test conducted by a healthcare provider. Unfortunately, 90 percent of those who have pre-diabetes don’t know that they have it, as pre-diabetes does not have any specific symptoms. Getting a blood test is the only way to know for sure, and once you know, you can make the necessary changes that could save your life.

What can I do if a blood test shows I have pre-diabetes?

First, talk to your doctor. If you are overweight and have pre-diabetes, try to lose at least five to ten percent of your total body weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, try to lose between 10-20 pounds. The best ways to lose weight and maintain weight loss is by improving your lifestyle. Important lifestyle changes that can have big effects on your weight include healthy eating –fewer fats and more fibers – and physical activity at least 30 minutes every day.

Is there anything else we should know about pre-diabetes?

Ultimately, you are in control of your health and future. No matter what, it’s never too late to start making changes to become healthier.

For more information about pre-diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diagnosis.  

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence to provide real life solutions through teaching, discovery and service. Visit ag.tennessee.edu. For more information on this or other family and consumer sciences-related topics, contact Shelly Barnes, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached at sbarnes@utk.edu or 615-444-9584.

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