What is the difference between Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and impaired glucose tolerance?

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that happens when the body is not able to make or use insulin properly.  Insulin is needed to help carry glucose (sugar) from the blood stream to the body’s cells.  With Type 2 diabetes, glucose stays in the blood causing high blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels. People with diabetes may need pills and/or insulin to manage their blood glucose levels. Prediabetes is when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is the same as impaired glucose intolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG). Some people with prediabetes may need medications to help manage their blood glucose levels.

Will I get diabetes if I have prediabetes? 

Maybe. If you have prediabetes, you are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and some of the complications of diabetes such as heart disease and stroke. If you take steps to manage your blood glucose by eating healthy and being physically active when you have prediabetes, you can delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing.

What should I do if I am diagnosed with prediabetes? 

Here are some tips to help manage prediabetes:

  • Follow a healthy eating plan. Call an Eatright Ontario Registered Dietitian at 1-877-510-510-2 to get helpful information about healthy eating and prediabetes. Try out this 7-day Diabetes Menu Plan designed to prevent and manage diabetes.
  • Try to be active for at least 2 ½ hours per week. That’s about 30 minutes per day on five days of the week. You can start with 10 minutes at a time. If you are new to physical activity, speak to your health care provider before getting started. For more tips read Physical Activity and Diabetes.
  • Aim for a healthier weight.  Losing even 5% of your total body weight through healthy eating and physical activity can lower your risk of developing diabetes.

Bottom Line 

There are many things that you can do to manage your blood glucose and lower your risk of developing diabetes.  Talk to your health care provider about the changes you can make. If you have any questions about diabetes or prediabetes, call EatRight Ontario to speak with a Registered Dietitian at 1-877-510-5102 or send an email

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Last Update – October 9, 2016

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.