Prediabetes on the rise

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Sunday, July 03, 2016 7:57PM

One in three adults in the United States has prediabetes. But few of them know it.

“If you’re overweight, if you’re over 45, if you have a history of diabetes in your family, these are all risk factors,” said Linda Dionne, a certified diabetic educator at the Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough. “It’s a good idea to get tested so that you can make lifestyle changes now.”

Prediabetes is a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, indicated by blood sugar levels that are higher than the normal range, but not high enough to have developed into Type 2 diabetes – at least, not yet.

Between 15 and 30 percent of people will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years without taking on lifestyle changes and losing weight, said Dionne.

And while prediabetes can manifest few to no symptoms outside of blood sugar levels, Type 2 diabetes comes with potentially serious consequences if not properly treated with medication, diet and exercise – blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, and loss of toes, feet or legs.

But while Type 2 Diabetes is a permanent, if controllable condition, prediabetes can be cured with lifestyle changes.

A change in diet: Reduce sugars, carbohydrates and starchy foods or eat smaller portions of them and instead fill up on foods high in fiber, which helps you stay fuller longer. Stay well hydrated, which helps lower blood sugar.

Increase your exercise: 150 minutes per week – 30 minutes, five times a week – of exercise is a good starting point for someone who is starting a regime.

Lose weight: Being overweight is a main risk factor in Type 2 diabetes. Losing 7 percent of your body weight is a good starting goal.

And though the higher your age the more likely you are to develop prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, Dionne cautioned that anyone with risk factors should talk to their doctor about a blood test to check their blood sugar levels.

“What I am seeing and what surprised me the most is the age that people are being diagnosed at. It’s a much younger age than it once was,” said Dionne. “Twenty-six million people have diabetes, and they’re getting it younger. And prediabetes is getting to be a big issue.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. hleySaariMLT.