One out of three adults now have prediabetes...and nine out of ten of them don’t know it.

“The good news is that if you have prediabetes, the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Through the program, you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent (71 percent if you’re over age 60).”

Those results come from the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP)

The DPP is a trial that randomly assigned 3,234 people with prediabetes to take a placebo or metformin (a drug that lowers blood sugar), or to a “lifestyle” group.

The lifestyle goals: lose excess weight and exercise for at least 2½ hours a week.

“The DPP participants counted the grams of fat they ate because it was easier for them to calculate than counting calories,” says DPP researcher Judith Wylie-Rosett, who heads the division of health promotion and nutrition research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

How much did DPP participants cut their risk of diabetes?

After nearly three years, the average lifestyle participant had lost only 12 pounds, and only 58 percent had met the exercise goal.

The average lifestyle participant's weight loss was enough to slash the risk of diabetes by 58 percent, far more than metformin, which trimmed risk by 31 percent.

“And people in the lifestyle group still had a 27 percent lower risk of diabetes than the placebo group 15 years later, even though many had regained the lost weight,” says Wylie-Rosett.

Researchers are still tracking the participants’ risk of diabetes, along with their risk of cancer and memory loss.

plate with proportions
Want to eat a healthier diet? Start by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Joining a DPP program

Thanks to the DPP, Medicare pays for older people with prediabetes to participate in approved DPP-like programs.

“It’s truly amazing to me that we’ve gone from doing a trial to having a lifestyle program that’s reimbursed by Medicare,” says Wylie-Rosett. “How often does that happen?”

And some insurance plans cover online digital coaching programs like (Note: Omada’s trials are non-randomized and are funded and run by the company.)

Want to try a DPP program?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists groups that meet DPP standards, though Medicare hasn’t approved them all.

Photo: Jennifer Urban/CSPI.