The term pre-diabetes is used to describe people whose glucose metabolism is not normal. This means that they may, for instance, have blood glucose levels that are higher first thing in the morning after an overnight fast, they may have high glucose levels two hours after a meal, or they may have an HbA1c level between 5.7 and 6.4%. However, people with pre-diabetes do not have diabetes. Still, there is a risk that over time, adults with pre-diabetes may progress to type 2 diabetes. A recent study from the United Kingdom suggested that, at the time of diagnosis, 1 in 2 people with new onset type 2 diabetes already had signs of diabetes-related health complications. This suggests that pre-diabetes is a significant risk to health.

Risk of cancer and other serious health issues associated with pre-diabetes

In a recent major review of research in this area, investigators reported that having a diagnosis of pre-diabetes is linked to increased risk of early death, heart and lung disease, stroke, heart failure, irregular and rapid heart rate, chronic kidney disease, and dementia. Pre-diabetes is linked to higher risk for cancer, including liver and breast cancer. There was no association between pre-diabetes and the risk of depression.

Need to identify adults and children at risk of or with pre-diabetes

There are many potential health problems associated with pre-diabetes and, the prevalence of pre-diabetes is high around the world. We also know that lifestyle changes and interventions can improve glucose metabolism and lower the risk of related risk factors in people with pre-diabetes. As a result, this should lead to more research in this field to identify and help people (including children and young people) who are at risk for pre-diabetes as early as possible.


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