Two million Australians are believed to have pre-diabetes. If left untreated, it may develop into type 2 diabetes in 5 to 10 years.

Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

It is caused by insulin resistance – when the body’s insulin is not working effectively.

Pre-diabetes increases the incidence of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. 

Risk factors for pre-diabetes

Risk factors for pre-diabetes are similar to those for type 2 diabetes and include:

  • Being overweight – especially those who have excess weight around the waistline (that is more than 94cm for men and more than 80cm for women).
  • Being physically inactive.
  • Having high blood pressure.
  • Having high blood lipids (high triglycerides and/or high total cholesterol) or low good cholesterol (HDL-C).
  • Having a family history or type 2 diabetes and/or heart disease.

Other people at risk include:

  • Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
  • Women who have had diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or given birth to a big baby (more than 4.5kg).
  • Those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.
  • Those from certain ethnic backgrounds such as the Pacific Islands, Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

How can I lower my risk?

Here's the good news

  • There are established type 2 diabetes prevention studies from different parts of the world including USA, Finland, China, India and Japan
  • These studies demonstrated that lifestyle changes including healthy diet, physical activity, and maintaining a healthy body weight can help to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes.

It is possible with small steps to reverse pre-diabetes – and these measures can help you live a longer and healthier life.

  • There are a number of factors that influence the development of pre-diabetes including family history, your body and/or your lifestyle. it is evident that the most influential are lifestyle factors.
  • The good news is that up to 58% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through making healthy lifestyle changes.
  • If you are at high risk, the best thing to do is contact your doctor to see if additional testing is needed.
  • You cannot do anything about your age or your genetics, however you can take action to reduce your risk score by lowering your modifiable risk factors such as eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, being overweight, abdominal obesity. 
  • Browse Diabetes SA website for more information on how to make small lifestyle changes to help lower your risk.

Community programs for reversing pre-diabetes and preventing type 2 diabetes

If you are at high risk of type 2 diabetes, there are some programs that you might benefit from for improving your lifestyle.

  • Get Healthy SA offers participants free and confidential telephone-based advice to make lifestyle changes regarding healthy eating, physical activity, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and reducing risks for adults at high risk of type 2 diabetes.

Just diagnosed with pre-diabetes?

Here's how we can help.

Diabetes SA has developed our Good Health Guide to get you started towards living a healthier life and reversing your pre-diabetes status and risk. 

The Guide provides plenty of tips to get you started to:

  • Move more
  • Eat well
  • Manage stress
  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce alcohol
  • Quit smoking

Download: Good Health Guide

Diabetes SA is always at hand too and you can call our support line on 1300 198 204 or contact us for other great resources to support you live a healthy life.

Talk to one of our health professionals by calling 1300 198 204.

Arrange a face-to-face consultation by calling 1300 198 204.

Become a member of Diabetes SA.

Explore our resources and helpful links for more information.

Join our AUS2PREVENT research trial!

Our AUS2PREVENT research trial is a 12-month lifestyle change program based on internal evidence and best-practice advice.

The trial will launch in July 2021 and we aim to demonstrate that the program is feasible, acceptable and effective for delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes in Australian adults who are at high risk of developing the condition in the next 5 years.

How does it work? As part of a group in your community or online, you will work with a trained lifestyle coach to learn the skills you need to make lasting and meaningful lifestyle changes that will reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. You will learn to eat healthily, add physical activity to your life, manage stress, stay motivated, and solve programs that can get in the way of healthy changes.

Helpful links

Information resources

Online courses