Ask Well: How Much Weight Do I Need to Lose to Prevent Diabetes?


Stuart Bradford

Q. How can a blood test determine if I have prediabetes? How much weight do I need to lose to bring my numbers down?

A. Doctors typically perform one of three blood tests to diagnose prediabetes, a condition marked by blood sugar (glucose) levels that will are higher than normal yet not high enough to qualify as diabetes. While prediabetes often leads to full-fledged Type 2 diabetes, many people can hold the condition in check if they lose a relatively modest amount of weight in addition to enhance their physical activity, said Dr. Rhonda Bentley-Lewis, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “I stress to my patients that will we’re not talking about a huge amount of weight,” she said, “just 5 to 7 percent of one’s body weight” — or 10 to 14 pounds for someone who weighs 0 pounds.

Two of the tests require fasting, which helps prevent results being distorted by a prior meal in addition to provides “an even baseline,” Dr. Bentley-Lewis said. One, the fasting plasma glucose test, checks blood glucose levels after an 8 to 10 hour fast; results of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter indicate prediabetes. The additional, the oral glucose tolerance test, will be the most sensitive. the item checks blood glucose levels after fasting in addition to then two hours after you consume a sweetened drink; levels of 140 to 199 after the drink indicate prediabetes.

A third test, the A1C test, may be the most convenient because the item doesn’t require fasting. the item measures your average blood glucose levels over the past two to three months; results of 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent, which indicate the percentage of red blood cells that will have glucose attached to them, indicate prediabetes.

Though doctors often repeat a test to confirm a diabetes diagnosis, they do not always do so for a prediabetes diagnosis, Dr. Bentley-Lewis said.

Doctors can treat prediabetes with medication, yet many patients prefer to try weight loss in addition to exercise first, Dr. Bentley-Lewis said. Among thousands of people with prediabetes who participated in a national study called the Diabetes Prevention Program, 58 percent of those who adopted lifestyle modifications, like losing a modest amount of weight, stepping up physical activity in addition to reducing the amount of fat in addition to calories in their diets, were able to prevent progression to full-blown diabetes.

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Ask Well: How Much Weight Do I Need to Lose to Prevent Diabetes?

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