Prediabetes | Endocrinology and Diabetes

Endocrinology and Diabetes


Prediabetes may be reversible – and doesn’t have to become type 2 diabetes. We help you take back control of your health.

Medically reviewed by Jose Joaquin Lado Abeal, M.D. on Feb. 22, 2024.

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Top-Ranked Diabetes Care

At UC Davis Health, we’re committed to helping people identify and manage prediabetes as early as possible. U.S. News & World Report ranks us among the top 50 hospitals nationwide for both adult and pediatric diabetes and endocrinology.

We provide the testing, education, and guidance you need to make lifestyle changes for long-term wellness.  


What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes (borderline diabetes) means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but you do not yet have type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition that should be taken as a warning sign. Without treatment, prediabetes is likely to develop into type 2 diabetes, which usually cannot be reverted.

About 96 million adults in the U.S. have prediabetes. The condition is also on the rise in children. Studies show that 1 in 5 children are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes increases your risk of:

Prediabetes might not cause symptoms, so about 80% of people with the condition don’t know they have it. With a healthy diet, exercise and weight loss, you can overcome prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes.


Signs of Prediabetes

Prediabetes rarely causes symptoms. In some cases, you may notice darkened patches of skin or skin tags on your neck or under your armpits.

Some research suggests that certain people develop early diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy when they have prediabetes. Weakened blood vessels in your retina (area in the back of your eye) can lead to vision problems.  


Prediabetes Causes

Your pancreas produces insulin. This hormone helps move sugar (glucose) to your cells from your blood, so it can be used for energy. But if you have prediabetes, your cells resist (won't accept) the insulin and don’t get enough sugar.

Your pancreas makes more insulin to fix the problem, but over time, sugar builds up in your blood and can lead to prediabetes. Eventually, your pancreas produces less insulin, and your blood sugar levels go even higher, which results in type 2 diabetes.

Experts believe that insulin resistance in your cells is related to:  


Excess body weight, especially around your waistline, and cellular inflammation related to obesity may prevent your cells from using insulin as they should.

Physical Inactivity

Exercise helps your body use sugar efficiently. If you aren't physically active, too much sugar stays in your blood and contributes to insulin resistance.


Prediabetes Risk Factors

You are also at a higher risk for prediabetes based on your:


People over the age of 45 are more likely to develop prediabetes.


Prediabetes is more common in certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander Americans.

Family History

Having a parent or sibling with diabetes increases your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Health Conditions

You’re more likely to develop prediabetes if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep problems or certain hormonal disorders. A history of gestational diabetes, heart disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or stroke also increases your risk.


Corticosteroids, antipsychotics, statins, some blood pressure medications and certain HIV medications may raise your blood sugar.


The chemicals in cigarettes cause inflammation and cellular damage, which may make your cells more likely to resist insulin.


Diagnosing Prediabetes

Your health care provider does simple blood tests to find out if you have prediabetes. These tests measure the amount of sugar in your blood.

Common Prediabetes Tests Include:

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test

Your provider takes a blood sample after you’ve been fasting (not eating or drinking anything except water) for about eight hours. This test measures your blood sugar at a single point in time. Most people receive this test during physicals or routine check-ups, even without diabetes risk factors.

A1C Test

An A1C test measures your average blood sugar levels over the last three months. It’s more reliable than a plasma glucose test since the average accounts for blood sugar fluctuations (up and down changes) due to stress, diet or illness. An A1C level between 5.7% and 6.4% means you have prediabetes. If you have prediabetes, diabetes or diabetes risk factors, your provider will tell you how often you need an A1C test.

Prediabetes Treatments at UC Davis Health

At UC Davis Health, our endocrinologists offer the full range of care for people with prediabetes and those at high risk for type 2 diabetes. We offer diabetes health education classes, diabetes testing and convenient diabetes clinics throughout Sacramento.

Your diabetes specialist builds a personalized plan to reverse prediabetes and help you get your health back on track. We also offer specialized services for children at risk for type 2 diabetes at our pediatric endocrinology and diabetes program.

Treatments for Prediabetes May Include:

Prediabetes Diet

We connect you with a registered dietitian who can help you make healthier food choices. A well-rounded diet focuses on whole grains, non-starchy vegetables and low-fat proteins such as chicken or fish. You limit sugar, alcohol and simple carbohydrates like white bread and pasta.


Our diabetes specialists can recommend ways to gradually incorporate more exercise into your life, such as walking, strength training and low-impact aerobics. Research shows that you can cut your risk of type 2 diabetes in half by exercising for 30 minutes each day and sticking to a healthy diet.

Weight Loss

Even losing a small amount of weight (around 5% to 7% of your total body weight) can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. At UC Davis Health, we offer a comprehensive non-surgical weight loss program as well as weight management and health education classes.


Metformin is a medication that helps control your blood sugar. Research is ongoing about the benefits of metformin for people with prediabetes.


Preventing Prediabetes

You can lower your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes by:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting regular prediabetes tests based on your risk level
  • Keeping chronic health conditions under control
  • Losing weight
  • Not smoking

“National Diabetes Statistics Report,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

“Prediabetes – Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes,” CDC,

 “Prediabetes Deserves More Attention: A Review,” NIH National Library of Medicine,

“Exercise and diet reduce risk of diabetes, US study shows,” NIH National Library of Medicine,

How common is it?

1 in 3People in the U.S. have prediabetes


80%People that don’t know they have prediabetes

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Prediabetes - Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

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