90% of People with Prediabetes Don't Know It

diabetes, diabetes control, A1C, blood pressure
People with diabetes often use a blood sugar monitoring device to help them test and control sugar levels. (Image credit: Dreamstime.)

Although 79 million people in the U.S. have prediabetes, nearly 90 percent don't know it, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

People with prediabetes have blood sugar levels that are abnormally high, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Prediabetes puts people at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes; about 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes who don't take steps to reduce their risk will progress to type 2 diabetes in the following five years, the CDC says.

In 2005 and 2006, about 7 percent of people with prediabetes in a CDC survey knew they had the condition. To see if awareness had changed in recent years, the CDC analyzed information from a 2009 to 2010 survey of adults ages 20 years and over. Participants gave blood samples and were asked if a doctor had ever told them that they had prediabetes.

Just 11 percent of those with the condition knew that they had it. People taking medication for high blood pressure or high cholesterol were more likely to know that they had prediabetes compared with those not taking such medications (14 percent versus 6 percent). And those who were obese were more likely to know they had the condition compared with those of normal weight (10 percent versus 4 percent).

Strategies to increase awareness of prediabetes are needed so those with the condition can take steps to prevent progression to type 2 diabetes, the CDC said. Eating healthy foods, increasing physical activity and losing weight can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes among those with prediabetes.

The report will be published this week in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Pass it on: About 9 in 10 people with prediabetes don't know they have the condition.

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Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.