Pre-diabetes need not progress to type 2

A diagnosis of pre-diabetes does not necessarily mean a person is going to develop type 2 diabetes.

It is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than the healthy range, although not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Pre-diabetes has no signs or symptoms. Most people discover that they have pre-diabetes after having an annual health check at their local medical service.

Risk factors for pre-diabetes

Some people are at a greater risk of developing pre-diabetes. The risk factors for pre-diabetes are similar to type 2 diabetes.

These risk factors include

  • Being above the healthy weight range – especially those who have excess weight around the waistline (ie: more than 94cm for men and more than 80cm for women)
  • Being physically inactive
  • Elevated triglycerides and low HDL-C (good cholesterol) and/or high total cholesterol
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • A family history of type 2 diabetes and/or heart disease.

Diagnosis can be an opportunity

Being diagnosed with pre-diabetes can provide an individual with the opportunity to prevent or delay developing type 2 diabetes. Evidence shows that type 2 diabetes can be prevented in up to 58% of cases in the high risk (pre-diabetes) population among those who make lifestyle changes.

Two of those lifestyle changes include increasing physical activity and making healthy food choices.

Physical activity doesn’t mean that your client has to run a marathon or lift heavy weights at the gym.

Small changes can cause happy results

Exercise can be something as simple as doing everyday housework, walking the dog, working in the garden, carrying groceries. This incidental activity burns off some excess glucose, rather than it being stored as fat.

More formal exercise, aiming for 30 minutes a day, can be broken up in to 10-minute sessions. Suggest to your clients to aim for a bit more huff and puff in these sessions, like a brisk walk, mowing the lawn or playing with the kids in the park.

Joining a friend or group can motivate

Encourage your clients to include some resistance training twice a week to improve the way their muscles work, like lifting weights such as cans of food. And encourage a group session.

It has been shown that it is easier to start and stick to activity by joining up with a group or a motivated friend.

Fruit and vegetables are key

A healthy eating plan for losing weight, (if above the healthy weight range), to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes should include a reduction in total energy (kilojoule) and fat intake, particularly saturated fat foods such as butter, fatty meats, takeaway foods, biscuits, cakes and pastries.

Lastly, encourage your clients to choose a wide range of high fibre, low GI carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes (tinned beans are good) and fruit and vegetables.

For more information on healthy eating please download this poster for your clinic.

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