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Understanding Prediabetes

Spanish Translation (PDF) | Hmong Translation (PDF)

Prediabetes is a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes, which is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. 34% of adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, though at least 22% of those people haven't been diagnosed. Type 2 diabetes can also be an expensive disease to treat, costing people more than twice as much for health care. Along with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes can lead to other serious consequences, such as heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, Alzheimer's Disease, and blindness. Those with type 2 diabetes may lose their legs, feet, or toes.

However, prediabetes doesn't have to become type 2 diabetes. You can stop both in their tracks.

Adult drinking cola


Why Reverse Prediabetes?

There is a long list of reasons to start taking action as soon you get a prediabetes diagnosis. However, they all lead up to the same conclusion—waiting too long to address your prediabetes can have lasting, permanent effects. This is your chance to reverse this condition before it turns into a chronic disease, like type 2 diabetes, which can only be managed and never completely cured.

If Prediabetes is Ignored

  • Condition worsens and can become type 2 diabetes
  • Health care costs could increase by as much as $10,000 each year
  • Risk increases for heart disease, kidney disease and stroke

If Prediabetes is Addressed

  • Risk for type 2 diabetes is reduced by 58%
  • Diabetes-related health care costs would not increase
  • Overall health can improve, energy levels can increase, and stress levels can decrease 
  • Risk for prediabetes is reduced by 71% if over the age of 60

Find Out the Truth

A healthy, active lifestyle can prevent or reverse prediabetes, but it’s important to remember that many prediabetes risk factors are out of your control. Age, sex, race, family history; they all have an impact. So do adverse childhood experiences and the living conditions we grow up, live, work, and play in. Challenges like poverty, stress, harmful substance use, and poor access to health care may put you at higher risk. But if you focus on the things you can control, you have the power to lessen the impact of these other factors.

Left untreated, prediabetes can permanently harm your pancreas, the organ in your body responsible for creating insulin, which breaks down sugar into energy. High blood sugar occurs when your cells stop responding to the insulin your pancreas produces, which means the sugar isn’t breaking down into energy. This can eventually harm your pancreas because it can cause your pancreas to “ramp up” its insulin production and/or stop producing enough. Find out if you're at risk today.

More than 88 million Americans have prediabetes, and at least 4 out of 5 don't know they have it. You can have prediabetes for years without showing any clear symptoms, which means the condition can go undetected until a serious health effect develops, like heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Don't wait, find out if you're at risk today.

What you eat certainly affects your blood sugar, but diabetes isn't caused by sugar alone. Type 2 diabetes develops when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, or the body starts to resist it. While we don't know exactly why this happens, genetics and environmental factors are contributing factors. That's why making positive lifestyle changes are so effective at helping people prevent and manage diabetes.

Older adults may have a higher risk, but so do many other kinds of people. At least 1 in 5 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 have prediabetes, even if they don't know it yet. And 1 in 4 adults under the age of 34 have prediabetes, too. That's why it is important for people of all ages to know the risk of prediabetes.

While body weight can be related to health, being overweight isn't a guarantee of anything, including prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels are not determined by weight alone. A person's genetics, lifestyle, and opportunities they have to make healthy choices all play a part. There are many small changes you can make—and programs you can join—that can help you lower your blood sugar and reduce your risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Most pregnant people experience some insulin resistance late in their pregnancy. For many, that resistance continues even after their pregnancy ends—especially if their blood sugar levels were already higher than normal before they became pregnant. About half of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. If you had gestational diabetes, talk to your doctor about getting tested for prediabetes right away.

Unlike type 2 diabetes, prediabetes is reversible. If you have prediabetes, now is the perfect time to take control of your health and lower the damaging high blood sugar levels you've been living with. As you maintain your lifestyle changes, you will have gotten rid of your prediabetes—and lowered your risk for type 2 diabetes later on.

There are lots of success stories that prove being a little more active, eating a little better, and losing just a little weight can help. You don't have to give up the things you love or start running marathons to reverse prediabetes and prevent more serious conditions, like type 2 diabetes or heart disease. And you don't have to do it alone either. There are programs that can help.


Check out these organizations and educational materials for proven tools and tips on prediabetes and how you can prevent it:


Feet stepping on a scale

Are You at Risk?

The sooner you know if you're at risk for prediabetes, the sooner you can start making a few small changes that can fix the high blood sugar that may be damaging your health—before you develop type 2 diabetes.

Take the Test

You Can Reverse Prediabetes

You have the power to prevent or reverse prediabetes. Learn about the healthy lifestyle changes you can start making today, and discover how health care providers can help those at risk find answers, support, and more. 


Last revised September 22, 2021