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Diabetes Overview

What are the other forms of impaired glucose metabolism (also called pre-diabetes)?

People with pre-diabetes, a state between "normal" and "diabetes," are at risk for developing diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. However, studies suggest that weight loss and increased physical activity can prevent or delay diabetes, as weight loss and physical activity make the body more sensitive to insulin. There are two forms of pre-diabetes.

Impaired Fasting Glucose

A person has impaired fasting glucose (IFG) when fasting plasma glucose is 100 to 125 mg/dL. This level is higher than normal but less than the level indicating a diagnosis of diabetes.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance

Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) means that blood glucose during the oral glucose tolerance test is higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. IGT is diagnosed when the glucose level is 140 to 199 mg/dL 2 hours after a person drinks a liquid containing 75 grams of glucose.

An estimated 57 million people over age 20 have impaired fasting glucose, suggesting that at least that many adults had pre-diabetes in 2007.

What are the scope and impact of diabetes?

Diabetes is widely recognized as one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. In 2006, it was the seventh leading cause of death. However, diabetes is likely to be underreported as the underlying cause of death on death certificates.

Diabetes is associated with long-term complications that affect almost every part of the body. The disease often leads to blindness, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage. Uncontrolled diabetes can complicate pregnancy, and birth defects are more common in babies born to women with diabetes.

Who gets diabetes?

Diabetes is not contagious. People cannot "catch" it from each other. However, certain factors can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs equally among males and females, but is more common in whites than in nonwhites. Data from the World Health Organization's Multinational Project for Childhood Diabetes indicate that type 1 diabetes is rare in most African, American Indian, and Asian populations. However, some northern European countries, including Finland and Sweden, have high rates of type 1 diabetes. The reasons for these differences are unknown.

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