Almost half of older adults — more than 26 million people 65 and older — have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How concerned should they be?
Not very, say some experts. Prediabetes — a term that refers to above-normal but not extremely high blood sugar levels — isn’t a disease, and it doesn’t imply that older adults who have it will inevitably develop Type 2 diabetes, they note.
“For most older patients, the chance of progressing from prediabetes to diabetes is not that high,” said Dr. Robert Lash, chief medical officer of the Endocrine Society, commenting on recent research. “Yet labeling people with prediabetes may make them worried and anxious.”
Other experts believe it’s important to identify prediabetes, especially if this inspires older adults to get more physical activity, lose weight, and eat healthier diets to help bring blood sugar under control.
“Always a diagnosis of prediabetes should be taken seriously,” said Dr. Rodica Busui, president-elect of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association, which recommends adults 45 and older get screened for prediabetes at least once every three years. The CDC and the American Medical Association make a similar point in their ongoing “Do I Have Diabetes?” campaign.
Still, many older adults aren’t sure what they should be doing if they’re told they have prediabetes. Nancy Selvin, 79, of Berkeley, California, is among them.
At 5 feet and 106 pounds, Selvin, a ceramic artist, is slim and in good physical shape. She takes a rigorous hourlong exercise class three times a week and eats a Mediterranean-style diet. Y …