Most Older Adults With Prediabetes Don’t Develop Diabetes

Most older adults with prediabetes — a condition in which blood glucose is higher than normal, but not in the diabetic range — do not develop diabetes, according to a new study in the Journal of Internal Medicine. An estimated 84 million people in the United States are living with prediabetes, many of them undiagnosed.

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Researchers evaluated 2,575 men and women 60 and older without diabetes for up to 12 years. At the beginning of the study, 918 people (36%) had prediabetes. By the end of the study period, only 119 people, or 13% of those who started with prediabetes, developed diabetes. Another 204 of the participants had their blood glucose level decrease enough to no longer be considered prediabetic.

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“Progressing to diabetes is not the only destination,” noted lead study author Ying Shang, MSc. “In fact, the chance to stay prediabetic or even revert back to (normal blood sugar) is actually pretty high (64%), without taking medication. Lifestyle changes such as weight management or blood pressure control may help stop prediabetes from progressing.”

People with prediabetes were more likely to achieve normal blood sugar levels if they lost weight, had low blood pressure and did not have heart disease.

Although the study was too small to suggest how the condition might progress for the millions of people worldwide with prediabetes, it should motivate those who are diagnosed to make lifestyle changes, says Ron Ruby, MD, who was not involved in the research.

Larger studies are needed to confirm the findings, the study authors note.

Want to learn more about prediabetes? Read “Prediabetes: What to Know” and “Stopping Prediabetes In Its Tracks.”

Diane Fennell

Diane Fennell

Senior Digital Editor for DiabetesSelfManagement.com, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.

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