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Borderline diabetes is another name for prediabetes, a condition that makes it more likely that you’ll develop type 2 diabetes. People with borderline diabetes have some insulin resistance, but their blood sugar levels are not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.

What is borderline diabetes?

Some people use the term “borderline diabetes” to refer to prediabetes. Prediabetes is a term used by medical professionals and is a condition that may occur before a person develops type 2 diabetes.

Also known as impaired fasting glucose or glucose intolerance, prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but they’re not quite high enough to be considered a sign of diabetes.

During the prediabetes phase, your pancreas still produces enough insulin in response to ingested carbohydrates. But the insulin is less effective at removing the sugar from the bloodstream, so your blood sugar remains high. This condition is called insulin resistance.

If you have prediabetes, you should know you’re not alone. In 2019, it was estimated that 96 million adults in the United States were diagnosed with prediabetes, which translates to around 1 in 3 adults.

Having prediabetes doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop diabetes. But it’s important to make changes to your diet and lifestyle to prevent the condition from progressing.

In fact, it’s estimated that between 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes within the next 3-5 years if no lifestyle changes are made.

Early warning signs

Someone with insulin resistance in its early stages can develop type 2 diabetes if it continues long enough.

But prediabetes doesn’t usually cause any symptoms and only 20%Trusted Source of people with prediabetes even know they have it.

Borderline diabetes risk factors

Any of these risk factors can increase Trusted Source your chances of developing prediabetes:

  • having overweight or obesity
  • being physically inactive
  • being age 45 or older
  • having high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels
  • having a close family member with type 2 diabetes
  • having a history of heart disease, stroke, gestational/Pregnancy diabetes, or polycystic ovary syndrome

Determining if you have borderline diabetes

Prediabetes is a silent condition, so getting a regular wellness checkup is important for early detection. If you think you might have borderline diabetes, it’s best to discuss your concerns with a doctor.

If a doctor suspects you may have prediabetes, they’ll most likely perform a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test or oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

HbA1c is an indicator of your blood sugar control over the past 3 months Trusted Source, so it’s often a better overall picture than a single fasting blood sugar check. An HbA1c level between 5.7 and 6.4 indicates prediabetes.

Potential complications of borderline diabetes

High blood glucose levels, especially if they’re left untreated, can affect other systems in your body. This can leave you vulnerable to a variety of health risks and chronic health conditions. For example, uncontrolled diabetes can lead Trusted Source to:

The high insulin levels that come with insulin resistance can cause additional problems.

How to reduce risk

A large, multicenter research study called the Diabetes Prevention Program looked into how lifestyle changes could help prevent diabetes. What they found should give people at risk of diabetes a lot of hope.

With modest weight loss and exercise, study participants reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58%Trusted Source over 3 years.

Therefore, making changes to your diet and lifestyle can be especially beneficial for those with prediabetes and may help support blood sugar control and overall health.

Balanced diet

Focus on nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats. When choosing grains, be sure to choose complex carbohydrates, like whole grains.

You should also aim to limit your intake of added sugars, like those in processed baked goods or sugar-sweetened beverages. Foods high in added sugar can raise blood sugar levels and are also often lacking in important nutrients.

For help in planning meals to prevent diabetes, consider scheduling an appointment with a dietitian. The American Diabetes Association also offers simple tips for diabetes-friendly cooking.

Physical activity

Aim for 150 minutes Trusted Source of exercise each week, or around 30 minutes of exercise for 5 days per week.

This can include a variety of activities, including walking, biking, swimming, hiking, or dancing.

Maintain a moderate weight

Though you can develop prediabetes at any size, having overweight or obesity can increase Trusted Source the risk.

Talk with a doctor or dietitian about whether making changes to your diet or exercise routine may be beneficial to help you reach or maintain a moderate weight and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.


Aman k. Kashyap

I am a hard-working and driven medical student who isn't afraid to face any challenge. I'm passionate about my work . I would describe myself as an open and honest person who doesn't believe in misleading other people and tries to be fair in everything I do.

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