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There's no official screening protocol for prediabetes—which is partly why it often goes undetected—but major risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- A family history of the disease
- Having had gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant)
- High cholesterol or hypertension
- Having delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Your ethnicity (Americans of African, Mexican, Native American, Hawaiian and Asian descent are more likely to develop it)
If you're older than 45 and have any of those risk factors—or if you're overweight and have one of the risk factors, at any age—see your health care provider to be screened every three years. The American Diabetes Association recommends using the A1C test (see below) if it's available. If it's not, or if its results are unclear, your doctor might suggest another test.
*The A1C (glycated hemoglobin) blood test, which can be done without fasting and at any time of day, reveals your average blood sugar level for the previous two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent; 5.8 percent to 6.4 percent suggests prediabetes; 6.5 percent or higher indicates diabetes.
Source: Osama Hamdy, MD, medical director of the clinical obesity program at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston and co-author of The Diabetes Breakthrough