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Diabetes Health Center

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Prediabetes Precautions Often Ignored

Study Shows People With Prediabetes Don't Take Steps to Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 2, 2010 -- People with prediabetes aren't taking simple precautions that could prevent the potentially deadly disease of type 2 diabetes from taking hold.

A new study shows nearly 30% of all adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, yet more than 90% aren't aware of it. Moreover, only about half of people with prediabetes are taking any steps to reduce their risk, like losing weight or exercising more.

People with prediabetes have impaired glucose (sugar) tolerance and blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to classify as diabetes. They are at high risk of developing diabetes without immediate action.

Researchers say diabetes can be delayed and even prevented in many people at high risk for the disease, including those with prediabetes, through modest weight loss or increasing physical activity. But this is the first study to look at whether people with prediabetes are making the lifestyle changes necessary to reduce their risk of developing diabetes.

Missed Chances at Diabetes Prevention

In the study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers analyzed survey responses from 1,402 people with prediabetes who participated in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The results showed only 7.3% said they had been told by a health care provider that they had prediabetes. Less than half (48%) with prediabetes had been tested for diabetes or high blood sugar in the past three years.

Researchers found adults with prediabetes were more likely to be male, older, and have lower educational status than those without the condition. They were also more likely to have an immediate family member with diabetes.

When asked if they had taken one of the following three diabetes prevention measures in the last 12 months, only about half said yes:

  • Tried to lose or control their weight (52%)
  • Reduced the amount of fat or calories in their diet (55%)
  • Increased physical activity or exercise (49%)

The study showed people with prediabetes who had been advised by a doctor to lose weight or exercise more were more likely to take these diabetes prevention measures.

"Identification and awareness of prediabetes may be an important step in initiating effective lifestyle intervention," write researcher Linda S. Geiss, MA, of the CDC and colleagues. "Reversing the growing diabetes problem will require multiple levels of interventions, including promotion of healthy lifestyles."

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