Is Prediabetes Stalking You? Recognize the Danger
by James Haley, MD, FACOG, FPMRS
As many as 86 million people in the United States have prediabetes, yet 90% of them don’t even know it. Prediabetes is the condition that exists when you have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to classify as diabetes. Someone with prediabetes has a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and other serious health issues, including stroke and heart disease.
Since this condition has no symptoms, it can easily go undiagnosed. However, there are risk factors to look for, and certainly ways you can decrease your risk of becoming a Type 2 diabetic. Type 2 diabetes is a major public health issue, and more people need to know they are at risk.
Know the Risk Factors for Prediabetes
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has guidelines that list a total of 11 specific risk factors that determine if you should be screened for prediabetes. They include:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25
- History of Heart Disease
- Physical Inactivity
- 1st Degree Relative with Diabetes
- Over 45 years old
- Had Diabetes in Pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
- African-American race
- Latino ethnicity
- Asian-American race
If you’re over 45 and have any of the other risk factors, you should see your doctor. A simple blood test can let you know if you are prediabetic. Unfortunately, most Americans these days have a body mass index (BMI) over 25, not realizing the risks associated with it. If you have a calculator, you can easily figure your BMI. Below is the standard formula. If you are in good shape and have extra muscle, it may be a little off. Nevertheless, it is still a good method and will give you a close estimate.
How to Calculate Your BMI
- Figure out how many inches tall you are. (Example: if you are 5’4″ you are 64 inches).
- Multiply the number by itself. (Example: 64 x 64 = 4096)
- Write the total down and clear your calculator.
- Now, punch in your weight in pounds and divide by that saved 4-digit number (For a 125 woman, 125 divided by 4096 = .03051758)
- Multiply your result by 703. (.03051758 x 703=21.4538)
- Here, 21.45 is the BMI
If the result you get is less than 18.5, you are considered underweight. If your BMI is between 18.5-24.9, you are normal weight. But if your BMI is 25-29 you are considered overweight, and over 29 is considered obese.
No matter how undesirable you find your calculations, don’t despair. Make today the first day of positive changes. It’s never too late to start a sensible diet and exercise plan. Change begins with that first step. Get committed!! Get going!
For guidelines on nutrition and weight loss, discuss your concerns with your doctor at your next annual exam.