Prediabetes Figures Are Climbing

Published Online: Thursday, July 1, 2004

The government estimates that 41 million Americans have prediabetes, according to statistics released in April 2004. The numbers are much higher than previous calculations because physicians changed the criteria for diagnosing the condition after research indicated that doctors were missing too many at-risk patients.

Originally physicians believed that blood sugar levels below 110 mg/dL measured from the "impaired fasting glucose" test were normal. In November 2004, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) changed the definition of normal to below 100 mg/dL. Thus, anyone with a fasting glucose level between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL is now considered prediabetic. Cutoffs for a second test, where blood sugar levels are measured 2 hours after a glucose-rich drink, stayed the same. Levels between 140 mg/dL and 199 mg/dL are considered prediabetic in that test.

The ADA recommends that individuals who meet any of the following criteria should take one of the tests:

  • Individuals 45 and older who are overweight should seek testing during their next routine physician visit
  • Individuals 45 and older who are of normal weight should consult with their physician to determine whether testing is appropriate
  • Physicians should consider testing younger individuals if they are overweight and have another risk factor such as a diabetic relative or bad cholesterol

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