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Lifestyle changes can help reverse prediabetes

by Kitty Finklea, RD, AFAA-CPT

Are you familiar with the term prediabetes?

Prediabetes means your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. It’s estimated that 88 million Americans have prediabetes and 80 percent aren’t even aware.

There are no clear symptoms for prediabetes. However, there are risk factors to be aware of, including:

» A parent, sister, or brother with type 2 diabetes.

» Overweight.

» Age 45 years or older.

» Physically active less than three times a week.

» A woman with a history of gestational diabetes or having a baby weighing over 9 pounds.

» A woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

If you think you might be at risk, talk to your doctor about ordering a simple blood glucose test. If that is higher than normal, a blood test call hemoglobin A1c is usually completed.

» Normal A1c is 4.7-5.6%.

» Prediabetes range is 5.7-6.4%.

» Diabetes is diagnosed at 6.5%.

It’s easy to see where you fall.

What if you have prediabetes and don’t want to develop diabetes?

There are two lifestyle strategies shown to help decrease the risk of moving from prediabetes to diabetes by almost 60% and closer to 70% for those over age 60. These two changes include losing a small amount of weight and regular physical activity. Research shows these changes can work better than adding medication.

Weight loss:

A small amount of weight loss means losing 5% to 7% of current weight — this is 10-14 pounds for a 200-pound person.

Physical activity:

The amount of exercise needed is at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity such as walking, swimming, dancing or biking. That can be 30 minutes per day for five days a week, 50 minutes for three days, or whatever works for you.

Again, these strategies need to become part of your everyday life to prevent moving from prediabetes to diabetes.

Get help to make lifestyle changes:

A challenge for many people is figuring out how to make these changes last. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) to help. This one-year program helps people make lifestyle changes and manage challenges instead of getting off track. In the second year, quarterly meetings with a support group help maintain your new lifestyle.

Highlights of the program include:

» A trained coach to help you set realistic goals.

» Healthy eating education.

» Ways to develop a more active lifestyle.

» Stress management strategies.

» Giving and getting support from others with similar goals and challenges.

HopeHealth offers a CDC-recognized program that has seen great success. It helps people lose weight, get more active and move their A1C from a prediabetes range to a normal range. It takes commitment, but feeling better and lowering your risk of diabetes is worth it.

Plus, many people in the program make new friends! The support group helps inspire and offers a community to share challenges, successes and accountability to stay on track. The DPP program is also covered by Medicare and other insurance companies.

To find out more about the HopeHealth DPP Program, contact Sonda Jett-Clair at 843-432-3715 or Take action now to improve your health.

Kitty Finklea, RD, AFAA-CPT, is a registered dietitian nutritionist at the Diabetes and Nutrition Institute in the HopeHealth Medical Plaza, Florence. She received a degree in dietetics from Winthrop College and specializes in diabetes, weight management and eating disorders.



HopeHealth educates its patients on the importance of having a health care home. As a primary care facility, HopeHealth’s medical team works to prevent and detect illness and the early onset of disease, provide routine physical examinations and promote overall healthy lifestyles.

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