Prediabetes is a condition that comes before diabetes. It means your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) levels are higher than normal but aren’t high enough to be called diabetes.

There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes. You can have it and not know it.

If I have prediabetes, what does it mean?

It means you are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke.

How can I delay or prevent type 2 diabetes?

You may be able to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes with:

  • Daily physical activity, such as walking.

  • Weight loss, if needed. Losing even a few pounds will help.

  • Medication, if your doctor prescribes it.

Being active is one of the best ways to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. It can also lower your weight and blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

One way to be more active is to try to walk for half an hour, five days a week. If you don’t have 30 minutes all at once, take shorter walks during the day.


Reaching a healthy weight can help you a lot. If you’re overweight, any weight loss, even 7 percent of your weight (for example, losing about 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds), can lower your risk for diabetes.

Here are small steps that can go a long way toward building healthy habits. Small steps add up to big rewards.

  • Avoid or cut back on regular soda and juice. Have water or try calorie-free drinks.

  • Choose lower-calorie snacks, such as popcorn instead of potato chips.

  • Include at least one vegetable every day for dinner.

  • Choose salad toppings wisely—the calories can add up fast.

  • Choose fruit instead of cake, pie, or cookies.

  • Cut calories by:

    • Eating smaller servings of your usual foods.

    • When eating out, share your main course with a friend or family member. Or, take half of the meal home for lunch the next day.

  • Roast, broil, grill, steam, or bake instead of deep-frying or pan-frying.

  • Be mindful of how much fat you use in cooking.

  • Use healthy oils, such as canola, olive, and vegetable.

  • Start with one meat-free meal each week by trying plant-based proteins such as beans or lentils in place of meat.

  • Choose fish at least twice a week.

  • Cut back on processed meats that are high in fat and sodium. These include hot dogs, sausage, and bacon.


Write down what and how much you eat and drink for a week. Writing things down makes you more aware of what you’re eating and helps with weight loss. Take note of the easier changes you can make to reduce your calories and start there.







Diabetes is a common, but serious, disease.

  • You can delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes by increasing your activity and losing a small amount of weight.

  • If you delay or prevent diabetes, you’ll enjoy better health in the long run.

Get started.

  • Be physically active.

  • Make a plan to lose weight.

  • Track your progress.

Get checked.

If you are at increased risk for diabetes, ask your doctor about getting tested at your next visit. You can take our risk test at to find out if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

A CDC-recognized lifestyle change program is a proven way to delay and even prevent type 2 diabetes.

The program helps you change certain aspects of your lifestyle, like eating healthier, reducing stress, and getting more physical activity.

Learn more and find a program at

This handout was published in Clinical Diabetes, Vol. 42, issue 2, 2024, and was adapted from the American Diabetes Association’s “Prediabetes: What is it and what can I do?” Visit the Association’s Patient Education Library at for hundreds of free, downloadable handouts in English and Spanish. Distribute these to your patients and share them with others on your health care team. Copyright American Diabetes Association, Inc., 2024.

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