Depending on whose statistics you are looking at, there are almost three times as many people with pre-diabetes as those with Type 2 diabetes.
The general concensus is that there are about 26 million people with Type 2 diabetes, approximately 19 million that know it and another 6-7 million that do not. This means that there are a whopping 72 million with pre-diabetes, those with fasting blood sugar levels greater than 100mg/dl. but less than 126mg/dl. Normal blood sugar levels are less than 100mg/dl. first thing in the morning before eating.
What is so very unfortunate is that the vast majority of the 72 million people with pre-diabetes will end up developing Type 2 diabetes in the not-to-distant future. And although Type 2 diabetes is highly treatable, it is not curable, and these newly-diagnosed Type 2s will have it for the rest of their lives. In spite of what you may read or hear, Type 2 diabetes is not reversible or curable. Even with weight loss the best you can hope for is that it will be better managed.
You see, generally speaking, when you are a smaller person -- particularly if you are smaller because you carry less fat on your body -- you need less insulin than if you are a larger person. Someone that can lose a lot of excess fat and reduce their body weight can oftentimes get by with producing less than normal amounts of insulin. In these cases it may be that you can get by with the limited amount of insulin that you are still able to produce. If blood sugar levels return to normal, it is likely many people would think that the diabetes is cured, when in reality it is well-managed. It is this type of scenario that confuses people and leads them to believing that their diabetes went away (as I have heard often) or is cured.
As a certified diabetes educator for the last 18 years, what frustrates me the most is that in the majority of cases of pre-diabetes, particularly those with an early diagnosis, developing on to Type 2 diabetes is preventable. This is worth repeating. If those people with pre-diabetes make some serious lifestyle changes immediately, then the development of Type 2 diabetes may be prevented.
People with pre-diabetes need to be told at the time of their diagnosis, rather emphatically, what they need to do to lessen their chances of eventually developing Type 2 diabetes. Instructions need to be given. Referrals need to be made. The seriousness of the diagnosis needs to be conveyed to the newly-diagnosed patient. The patient needs to know that they may be able to avoid diabetes if they do this, this and this.
Newly-diagnosed pre-diabetes patients need to seek instruction on how much exercise to engage in, how to improve meal planning and how much weight needs to be lost. Taking this advice and acting on it quickly is likely to mean the difference in developing diabetes or not.
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