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Positive lifestyle change may reduce risk for diabetes


Prediabetes is a term that cautions people with higher than normal blood glucose levels to take positive steps to improve their health. The American Diabetes Association defines prediabetes as a “higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.” Taking steps to improve your health can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. 

Risk factors for prediabetes and diabetes
other than being overweight or obese or age 45 or older—include:
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • Having a family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or being diagnosed with gestational diabetes—diabetes first found during pregnancy
  • Having high blood pressure—140/90 mmHg or above—or being treated for high blood pressure
  • Having HDL, or “good,” cholesterol below 35 mg/dL, or a triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL 
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
  • Having impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) on previous testing 
  • Having other conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as severe obesity or a condition called acanthosis nigricans, characterized by a dark, velvety rash around the neck or armpits
  • Having a history of cardiovascular disease If there are no risk factors as listed above, testing should begin at 45 years old and if normal, then repeated every three years.
Even if you have some of the risk factors for diabetes, following a few steps could lower your risk for developing diabetes. If you are overweight or obese, losing just 5 to 7 percent of body weight can have the greatest impact on reducing your risks of developing diabetes. This can be accomplished by getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five to six days a week and eating healthier.
The following can significantly reduce your body weight: Substituting whole grains for white rice and white breads; eating more vegetables and raw fruits; reducing the amount of sugar; and reducing high sugar and high fat foods while monitoring your calorie intake.  The key to eating healthy is portion control—small portions—2 to 3 ounces of lean meat about the size of a deck of cards, ½ cup of cooked vegetables or whole grains such as brown rice, one slice of bread (without added fat, and a small piece of fruit such as an apple or orange is considered one serving). Avoid the super-sized portions.

Visiting a health care provider can help prevent some health problems and identify health problems early.

Along with preventive screenings during an annual physical, ask your health provider if you need to have a diabetes test, especially if you have any of the risks or key indicators listed above. Then review the results of your test with your health care provider. Here is how the health care provider interprets your tests:
  • A fasting plasma glucose test: 100 to 125 mg/dl indicates prediabetes and 126 mg/dl or more indicates diabetes.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test plasma glucose value between 140 to 199 mg/dl (7.78 - 11.06 mg/dl) at two hours: 140-199 mg/dl indicates prediabetes and 200 mg/dl or great indicates diabetes.
  • An A1C test is also used to diagnose diabetes or prediabetes: 5.7 - 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes and 6.5 percent or more indicates diabetes.
It is recommended to have two separate confirmatory tests to adequately diagnose diabetes. With positive lifestyle changes in diet and exercise, along with routine visits to your health care provider, type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed.

For information, call Racial Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) US, at 792-5872 or visit

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.