Nearly one in four adults over the age of 25 years has either diabetes or a condition known as pre-diabetes (impaired glucose metabolism). There are two conditions that fit into this category – Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG) and Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT).
There is still a lot more to be learned about pre-diabetes. Without treatment, not everyone with Impaired Fasting Glucose will progress to Impaired Glucose Tolerance or type 2 diabetes. Likewise, not everyone with Impaired Glucose Tolerance will progress to type 2 diabetes.
This information sheet explains the differences, how they are treated and how they can be avoided in the first place.
In this section
Download the Information Sheet : Pre-diabetes
Any glucose test, fasting or not, that shows higher than normal blood glucose levels, needs to be checked further. The doctor may therefore order an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) to find out more about the patient’s glucose metabolism. The results of this laboratory test show four possible diagnoses:
1. Normal glucose levels 3. Impaired Glucose Tolerance
2. Impaired Fasting Glucose 4. Type 2 diabetes
* ‘Fasting’ means having nothing to eat for 8 hours before the test.
If pre-diabetes is detected during investigation for diabetes, the treatment involves thesame lifestyle changes that are recommended for people diagnosed with diabetes.
For most, this will include regular physical activity, healthy eating and if necessary, losing weight (see lifestyle section).
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Who is most likely to get pre-diabetes?
Risk factors for pre-diabetes are similar to those for diabetes which are:
- Being overweight – especially those who have excess weight around the waistline (ie: more than 94cm for men and more than 80cm for women).
- Being physically inactive.
- Having high triglycerides and low HDL-C (good cholesterol) and/or high total cholesterol.
- Having high blood pressure.
- Having a family history of type 2 diabetes and/or heart disease.
Other people at risk include:
- Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome*.
- Women who have had diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or given birth to a big baby (more than 4.5kgs).
- Those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.
- Those from certain ethnic backgrounds such as the Pacific Islands, Asia and the Indian sub-continent.
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Evidence shows that people with pre-diabetes are at high risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes. They can delay and reduce the risk of its development by adopting the lifestyle changes previously outlined under What is the treatment?
Being overweight or having excess weight around the waistline increases the risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes. Losing even as little as 5–10% of your body weight and keeping it off, can help reduce the risk.
* For more information refer to the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Diabetes information sheet.
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Healthy eating: A healthy eating plan for losing weight and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes should include a reduction in total energy (kilojoule) and fat intake, particularly saturated fat foos such as butter, full fat diary products, fatty meats, takeaway foods, biscuits, cakes and pastries. Instead choose a wide range of high fibre, low GI carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes and fruit. Tto work out a meal plan that’s right for you, see a dietitian.
Regular physical activity: Regular physical activity helps your body to use insulin better and to feel fi t and healthy. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ physical activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) on most, if not all, days of the week OR three 20-minute sessions of ‘vigorous intensity’ exercise per week (such as jogging, aerobics class, strenuous gardening). Try to include some resistance training twice a week to improve the way your muscles work, such as body weight exercises or lifting weights such as cans of food.
Starting a regular activity program – and sticking to it – can often be made a lot easier by joining up with a group or motivated friend to encourage you to keep going.
Before starting any new type of physical activity, always talk to your doctor.