What exactly is prediabetes?

According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 20 has prediabetes and for those over the age of 65, it’s 1 in 2. Up to 30% of those with prediabetes will develop type II diabetes within 5 years unless they make lifestyle changes including weight loss and increased physical activity.

30% of those with prediabetes will develop type II diabetes within 5 years Click To Tweet

What does prediabetes mean?

Though not recognized as an official medical diagnosis, prediabetes is a term used when a person’s fasting blood glucose (fasting plasma glucose) and hemoglobin A1c are higher than normal but aren’t high enough for a formal diabetes diagnosis. Fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c are two tests doctors use to assess glucose control and diagnose diabetes. Normal fasting blood glucose is below 100, but diabetes isn’t typically diagnosed until fasting glucose reaches 126mg/dL or higher. Glucoses in between 100-125 are typically considered prediabetic results. For the hemoglobin A1c, normal results are 5.6% or below, while diabetes is typically diagnosed at 6.5% or higher, so someone with lab results in between 5.7-6.4% may be told he or she has prediabetes.

Fasting Blood Glucose levels

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A1C levelsScreen Shot 2015-01-27 at 1.21.35 PM

What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

Unfortunately, many people with diabetes or prediabetes don’t experience symptoms. Having your doctor run a fasting glucose, oral glucose tolerance test or a hemoglobin A1c is the best way to determine your current risk.

What are the risk factors?

Knowing the risk factors for developing diabetes is also helpful in preventing the progression of prediabetes to diabetes. Risk factors include age, gender, family history, physical activity level, body weight, pregnancy history and race.

Every decade over 40 increases your risk for diabetes and men are at higher risk than women. If your family history includes an immediate blood relative (parent or sibling), then your risk also goes up. If you’re getting less than 150 minutes of exercise per week and are overweight or obese, had gestational diabetes or birthed a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, those are additional risk factors. And while prediabetes rates don’t differ across racial groups, diabetes is most common in Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, then non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans and non-Hispanic whites respectively. Certain medications, like statins, and other health conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome can also increase your risk for diabetes, so be sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns. Click here to take the American Diabetes Association’s risk assessment test.

How can I lower my risk for diabetes?

Fortunately there are many things you can do to take control of your health. Make sure your doctor is running a hemoglobin A1c so you know your results. Start exercising, aiming for at least 150 minutes a week, and get to a healthy body weight where your BMI is under 25. You can calculate your BMI by going here. Even losing just 10% of your current body weight can make a big difference! Make sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and limit refined carbohydrates like white rice, white pasta, sodas, sweet tea, crackers and desserts. Cut back on portions and find an activity you enjoy that gets you up and moving around. Feeling short on time? Research has shown three 10-minute walks a day can be just as effective as one 30-minute walk, so split up the time if needed. If you smoke, consider joining a tobacco cessation program. Put yourself in control of your health and be encouraged to know that you have the ability to change from having prediabetes to experiencing normal, healthy blood glucose levels.


Weight loss: a challenging journey

Lies. All lies. Whatever the number says on the scale can’t be right. At least, that’s what I tell myself. But my clothes are telling a different story. Getting dressed in the morning has been more like forcing toothpaste back into the tube. I suck it all in and pray that I will be able to zip up my pants.

I was doing so well after I had my gastric bypass. I was eating right and I was trying to move more despite arthritis and chronic pain. All of my progress got derailed last year with an unexpected health crisis. After that, everything fell apart. As I recovered, I didn’t just fall off the wagon; I jumped head first into emotional eating and back to my sugar addiction. Before I knew what happened, I picked up 30-plus of the 100 pounds I lost.

Weight loss isn’t easy. I know that is an understatement, but it’s true. Unlike a drug addiction, with food, you can’t live without the thing you are addicted to. It doesn’t help that all of the foods that are bad for you taste so good. Part of the problem is behavioral. I fell back into old habits when I was presented with a difficult challenge in my life.

In 2009, I had the roux-en-y gastric bypass at Houston Methodist Hospital. I truly believe it saved my life. At the time, I was 36 and plagued with a bunch health issues, including prediabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, osteoarthritis and polycystic ovary syndrome.

I went through the classes at the Weight Management Center. The instructors reminded me that bariatric surgery is a tool and that it requires lifestyle changes and ongoing support.

Sheshe lost 100 pounds as a result of her gastric bypass surgery, diet and lifestyle habits.

I made many changes, but I chose to disregard key components, such as support. Each month, I get an email from the Weight Management Center about their meetings, but I only attended a few. I didn’t believe I needed the support because I didn’t believe that I had a problem. But then last year happened, and after I recovered from my month-long hospital stay, all will power vanished. I should have attended meetings and made an appointment with a dietitian to help get me back on track. I didn’t.

30-something pounds later and a bunch of clothes that no longer fit, I have to ask, “How well is going at it alone working for me?” I know the answer: It’s not.

“What am I going to do about it?” I’ve made an appointment with a dietitian to create a meal plan and deal with my emotional eating. The hard part will be giving up sugar all over again. I’ll also attend meetings and look into joining a support group.

I have a lot of hard work ahead. The improvements in my health and quality of life have been significant, which is motivation enough for me to acknowledge that the scale hasn’t been lying.

Unlike a drug addiction, with food, you can’t live without the thing you are addicted to. Click To Tweet

The Weight Management Center offers treatment, services and support for the various stages of the weight loss journey. The center’s specialized programs include a medical weight management program; Step LITE, a moderate weight loss program; medical nutrition consultation; diabetes education program and weight loss surgery.

The center has locations in the Texas Medical Center, Sugar Land, Willowbrook/Northwest Houston and West Houston/Katy. To take the next step in achieving your weight loss goals, register for a free orientation session or visit houstonmethodist.org/weight-loss.