You had gestational diabetes
Having had gestational diabetes in the past also puts you at risk for prediabetes now, according to research, including a study in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. “Once you have been diagnosed with any form of diabetes, like gestational diabetes, you are at an increased risk for developing this again over time, especially with weight gain,” Dr Adimoolam says. According to the American Diabetes Association, doctors don’t know exactly why gestational diabetes develops, but it could be that pregnancy hormones affect how the body uses insulin. The NIDDK suggests women who’ve had gestational diabetes have their blood glucose tested every three years.
You can potentially reverse type 2 diabetes if you lose weight – and the same goes for if you are borderline diabetic. “By and large, obesity is the main cause of insulin resistance, as certain fat cells are known to cause and intensify insulin resistance over time,” Dr Ng says. And it’s not just how much you weigh, but where your weight is located on your body. “Waist size is typically proportional to centralised, or abdominal, obesity,” Dr Adimoolam says. “The more centralised abdominal fat, the higher one’s insulin resistance, and the greater the increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.” Genetics may also play a role here, as certain body types with more abdominal fat (“apple-shaped”) can run in families and certain ethnic groups, she says.
You have an unhealthy lifestyle
Whether you are borderline prediabetic or not, there are many science-based reasons to start working out. “Lack of exercise may promote weight gain, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes,” Dr Adimoolam says. A study from Johns Hopkins published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that people with prediabetes who dropped 10 per cent of their body weight dramatically reduced their risk of diabetes – but every little bit helps.
Dr Ng suggests losing even 5 to 7 per cent of your body weight, quitting smoking, and adopting a borderline diabetic diet. “Interventions that typically reduce weight include increased exercise, especially aerobic exercise, 150 minutes or more per week, and eating a balanced, low-fat diet that is not heavy on carbs,” he says. “Prediabetes is often thought of as a ‘warning sign,’ which is why lifestyle intervention is so important.”
Ultimately, the message is that prediabetes is not irreversible. “Prediabetes is the stage before one develops type 2 diabetes, and in most cases is preventable,” Dr Adimoolam says. “You may not need medications to treat prediabetes if you are able to change your lifestyle, with the goal for treatment focusing on diet changes and exercise.”
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