What is prediabetes and how common is it?

1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes, but only about 15 percent of them know they have it. Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal. People with prediabetes can get type 2 diabetes. They can also get other health problems, such as stroke and heart attack. There are some prediabetes risks you can’t control, like age and family history. But you can help lower your risk by exercising and eating healthy.

Talk to your doctor to know for sure. A simple blood test can tell if you have prediabetes.

What causes prediabetes?

Prediabetes and diabetes are related to insulin, a hormone made by your pancreas. Insulin acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. If you have prediabetes, the cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get the cells to respond. Over time, your pancreas can’t keep up and your blood sugar rises. This will cause prediabetes—and type 2 diabetes later.

How close is prediabetes to type 2 diabetes?
Without making changes, many people with prediabetes will get type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and exercising can lower your risk for getting type 2 diabetes. Studies show that weight loss of 5-7 percent can slow down or stop type 2 diabetes.

To find out more prediabetes risk factors, click here.


Who is most at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes?

If any of these apply to you, you’re at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes:

  • I have a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • I am over age 40
  • I am overweight
  • I had gestational diabetes (diabetes when pregnant) or high blood sugar when pregnant
  • I have high blood pressure
  • I am Hispanic, African American, Asian, or Native American

I got a high score on the online risk test. Do I have prediabetes?

A high score on the online risk test means you likely have prediabetes. A blood test will tell you for sure, so talk to your doctor. Your doctor will check your blood sugar levels through a test. The good news is when found out early, prediabetes can often be reversed.

What are the symptoms and signs of prediabetes?

There are usually no signs when you have prediabetes. You can have prediabetes for years and not know. Many people don’t know they have prediabetes until more serious health problems show up. All the more reason to take the online risk test and talk to your doctor.

What is the prediabetes blood sugar number?

Prediabetes is when your A1C level is between 5.7 and 6.4 percent. Above 6.4 means diabetes. Prediabetes can also be diagnosed with a fasting blood sugar test. A result between 100 and 125 mg/dL means prediabetes (above 125 mg/dL means diabetes). Your doctor may also use another test.

Does my doctor screen for prediabetes in my annual physical exam?

Not always. Your doctor might not test for prediabetes during your yearly physical. If you are at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, you should ask your doctor to include the test and talk about the results.

Do you want to get tested for prediabetes? Here’s everything you need to know.


How can I reverse prediabetes?

If found early, prediabetes can often be reversed. Eating healthier, getting exercise, and dealing with stress can help. The coaches in the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle change program can help you make those changes.

What changes should I make in terms of diet and exercise?

First, talk with your doctor. They will connect you with the National Diabetes Prevention Program or other help. You’ll learn which foods to eat and which foods to avoid. It’s also very important to be more active – try fun things like taking dance lessons or going on a walk.

What’s the best way to reverse prediabetes?

If you are overweight and have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight (10-15 pounds for a 200-pound person) can help. It’s also important to get more exercise (30 minutes, 5 days a week). A trained coach at the National Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle change program can help you make those changes – and make them stick.

What is the treatment for prediabetes?

Your doctor will help you make a plan and may refer you to a National Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle change program for coaching on how to make healthy changes.

Not sure what reversing prediabetes might look like for you? Hear from people in the program about what worked for them.


With early diagnosis, prediabetes can often be reversed. By joining a National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) lifestyle change program, you’ll learn how to make simple changes to help reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes. Find an online or in-person program below.