I Have Prediabetes, Will I Develop Type 2 Diabetes?


Living with prediabetes means you have a blood glucose level that is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Being diagnosed with prediabetes is a wake-up call and an opportunity for you to improve your habits and choose healthier options. Prediabetes can be taken as a sign that tells you that something you are doing is not entirely healthy or good for your body, so it would be a good idea to analyze the way you eat, exercise(or the lack of daily exercise) and even the way you handle stress.

Will I develop diabetes?

This may be one of the most frequently asked questions people who have been diagnosed with prediabetes have, and the answer is: it depends.

It will depend on whether actions are taken, and habits related to eating and physical activity are modified, as well as whether you modify behaviors and implement stress management strategies.

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases if one continues with a diet high in processed foods in combination with a sedentary lifestyle, lack of stress management and other factors related to type 2 diabetes. T2D has many factors associated with it, however, the National Diabetes Prevention Program has effective strategies to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. 

How does Prediabetes lead to Type 2 diabetes?

There are two mechanisms that can be affected when living with prediabetes.

The first is when cells do not respond adequately to insulin, making it difficult for glucose to enter them. This mechanism is called “insulin resistance” and it causes the body to work “too hard” to produce a little more insulin in order to meet the body’s requirements.

The second mechanism occurs when the pancreas (an organ that produces insulin) is not able to produce an adequate amount of insulin that the body needs for glucose to enter the cell.

These mechanisms may occur at the same time, or one may occur alone. Both mechanisms have an impact on the development of diabetes but can be accelerated if actions are not taken on the aforementioned habits.

How do habits affect the process of insulin use and production?

Diet: Eating many processed foods in excess causes a greater production of insulin to prevent blood glucose from rising. In the long term, this decreases the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin. Foods that have a lot of fat and are eaten in excess, are related to insulin resistance and obesity, which prevents it from being used by the cells efficiently.

Exercise: Exercise, in addition to helping weight loss, contributes to the production of muscle mass, and improves insulin sensitivity. Exercise is essential in preventing diabetes since insulin receptors found in the muscles improve the way the cells use it.

Stress: Stress has an impact on the production of insulin, as when you are stressed, especially constant stress produces hormones, increases insulin resistance. 

Ultimately, everything is in your hands. Having prediabetes is an opportunity to change your habits to healthier ones and in that way improve your quality of life by reducing the risk of developing diabetes.

WRITTEN BY Eugenia Araiza, CDE Nutritionist, POSTED 08/25/20, UPDATED 10/10/22

Eugenia has a degree in nutrition specialized in diabetes and is a diabetes educator. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 25 years ago, she is the creator of Healthy Diabetes. She really enjoys studying and helping others in managing their different types of diabetes. She loves studying, managing Type 1 diabetes and nutrition. She especially enjoys writing about the impact diabetes has on her life. She lives surrounded by the love of her family, Luis Felipe, who lives with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) type diabetes and her teenage son, Indigo