Beyond Trim: Be on the alert for signs of pre-diabetes

Sherry DeWalt

Do you have pre-diabetes?

You may think not but according to estimates from the National Diabetes Prevention Program, about 40% of adults have blood sugar levels that put them at risk for developing diabetes and many of them do not know it.

The program was developed by the Centers for Disease Control in 2010 to address the increasing burden of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes in the United States. The cost of diabetes care in the U.S. is estimated at over $300 billion and since the incidence pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly more common, the costs will only rise.

In its research to help develop programs to reduce diabetes risk, the program conducted a study with more than 3,000 people who had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. They were divided randomly into three groups. One group completed an intensive lifestyle intervention involving diet and exercise, one group received the diabetes drug Metformin, and the third group received a placebo drug.

Which group experienced the best result? It was the lifestyle intervention group, by far. The lifestyle intervention had two parts. The first focused on reducing dietary fat — which helped to reduce calories consumed) — and the second part promoted at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity. Participants in this group reduced their risk of diabetes by 58 percent.

The researchers determined that it was not the diet nor the physical activity in and of themselves that reduced risk; it was the weight loss that occurred as a result. Losing weight resulted in an even greater risk reduction. In the trial, those that lost more than the average of 7% body weight experienced by the group and who also met their physical activity goals reduced their diabetes risk by 90%.

Their message is that if you lose weight, you will substantially reduce your risk of diabetes.

We should all be concerned with avoiding pre-diabetes and subsequently our risk for type 2 diabetes. Having diabetes doubles our risk for heart attack and stroke. It’s a leading cause of blindness and the leading cause of kidney failure. It’s responsible for 60% of non-accidental foot and leg amputations. High blood sugars, even if not technically in the diabetic range, can still damage blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart.

Still wondering if you might have pre-diabetes? You can find out more about your risk by taking a simple quiz provided by the American Diabetes Association at

Sherry DeWalt is the healthy lifestyles coordinator for the CGH Health Foundation in Sterling.