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Understanding Prediabetes

May 27, 2019

Prediabetes can be thought of as an “early warning sign” that a person is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the good news is, diagnosing prediabetes also gives us a chance to prevent it from developing into type 2 diabetes. Read on for some facts on prediabetes and what you can do to decrease your risks.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes means that the body has become less sensitive to the effects of insulin and has to work harder to control blood glucose levels. A person with prediabetes has blood sugar (glucose) levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to say they have type 2 diabetes. As in type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin, but there may be less of it, or it may not work properly.

People with prediabetes are not only at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, but are also 50% more likely to develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels – factors that contribute to heart disease and stroke.

Who is at risk of developing prediabetes?

People that are extremely overweight or obese are at risk of developing prediabetes especially those people carrying extra weight around their mid-section. This is because carrying extra body fat inhibits the effects of insulin. With weight loss, glucose levels will likely return to normal levels. Because there is less resistance to insulin, more glucose is transported from the blood into tissue cells. Losing weight will also help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes also increases if you are physically inactive, have a family history of diabetes, have had gestational diabetes (i.e. having diabetes while pregnant), gave birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds at birth, are of Native, Hispanic, Asian, African, or Pacific Island descent, have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, or regularly sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per day.

What are the signs and symptoms?

People with prediabetes often have no symptoms. In fact, millions of people have diabetes and don’t know it because symptoms develop so gradually, people often don’t recognize them.

Symptoms of diabetes include the following:

  • frequent urination
  • constant thirst
  • always being tired
  • blurred vision
  • cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • frequent infections
  • tingling or numbness in your hands or feet

What can you do?

The good news is prediabetes does not always lead to diabetes. Making some lifestyle changes and taking steps to manage your blood sugar can help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is high in fibre and whole grains. Limit processed foods. Book a Save-On-Foods nutrition tour with our registered dietitians for tips and information on general healthy eating
  • Get regular physical activity. Diabetes Canada recommends aerobic activity for a total of at least 150 minutes a week and resistance exercise 3 times a week. Consult with a qualified exercise specialist or a Save-On-Foods certified diabetes educator before beginning resistance exercises and start slowly.
  • Keep a healthy weight. If a person is overweight, losing even a modest amount of weight (5-10% of total body weight) through healthy eating and exercise can improve your health and quality of life.
  • Talk to your Save-On-Foods pharmacist to complete your personalized risk assessment and guidance on ways to help reduce your risk of prediabetes developing into diabetes.

Resources: Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada,