Pre-diabetes is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal – but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Pre-diabetes has no signs or symptoms, but like type 2 diabetes pre-diabetes is a result of the body’s insulin not working effectively.

There are two pre-diabetes conditions – and having either condition can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)

  • IGT occurs when the blood glucose level is higher than normal after meals, but not to the level to be diagnosed with diabetes.

Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG)

  • IFG occurs when the fasting blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not to the level to be diagnosed with diabetes.

It is possible to have both impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glucose (IFG).

The big issue with pre-diabetes

It is estimated that 2 million Australians have pre-diabetes and are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Pre-diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease which may lead to heart attack and stroke.

Making positive lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Are you at risk?

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

  • Being overweight – especially excess weight around the waistline (more than 94cm for men and more than 80cm for women)
  • Being physically inactive
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood lipids
  • A family history of type 2 diabetes and/or heart disease

Other people at risk include:

  • Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Women who had gestational diabetes in pregnancy or have 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


Pre-diabetes is diagnosed by an oral glucose tolerance test, ordered by a doctor and performed at a pathology lab.

The test involves a blood sample being taken before and two hours after a glucose drink has been consumed. 


Treatment for pre-diabetes requires the same lifestyle changes recommended for people with diabetes.

This includes regular physical activity, healthy eating and weight loss if necessary.

  • Healthy eating – a healthy eating plan encourages regular meals and snacks (if required) based on foods high in fibre, low in fat (particularly saturated fat) and low in sodium. This involves eating a variety of foods from all core food groups including fruits, vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, low fat dairy foods and lean meats and meat alternatives such as legumes and eggs.
  • An accredited practising dietitian can assist with developing an individualised meal plan. To find a dietitian in your area, contact: Diabetes SA on 1300 198 204
  • Physical activity – regular physical activity assists the body to use insulin more effectively, and promotes overall good health.

Take advance action

Pre-diabetes is preventable! Simple strategies such as healthy diet and exercise can help keep diabetes at bay.