Taking Aim At Diabetes

Like millions of Americans, Maureen Marinelli is walking a fine line between being healthy and having diabetes, an illness she's desperately trying to avoid.

"I don't want to have diabetes. It's a horrendous disease," she says.

Because she's overweight and has elevated blood sugar, Maureen has what doctors are now officially calling pre-diabetes. It's a brand-new term coined to categorize an estimated 25 to 40 million Americans at high risk of having diabetes, reports CBS News Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin.

"By using a simple word that everyone understands – pre-diabetes – we can draw attention to this problem of high risk in the population, try to identify the people who are at greatest risk and try to get them on a course so the risk will decrease," says Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, president of the Joslin Diabetes Institute.

The signs of pre-diabetes are not hard to diagnose. They include:

  • being overweight
  • family history
  • having diabetes during pregnancy
  • high blood pressure
  • being a member of a minority group.

    "If you have those risk factors, or if you even have one of those risk factors, you may very well be pre-diabetic," says Dr. Christopher Saudek, president of the American Diabetes Association.

    Should You Be Tested For Pre-Diabetes?

    Click here for more information.

    Studies show the majority of people with pre-diabetes will develop full-blown diabetes within ten years. The whole reason for coining the new term is an attempt to slow what's become a diabetes epidemic. It's a wake-up call of sorts because diabetes can be prevented:

    "Diabetes is among the diseases where individuals have a lot of control over their fate," says Dr. Kahn.

    Doctors say it doesn't take much: moderate activity, like walking, and a loss of 7 percent of your body weight is enough to stave off what can be a deadly disease.

    Maureen Marinelli is trying. She's lost 25 pounds, stays active and feels better:

    "The more I lost weight, the more energy I gained," she says.

    She may be gaining something else – a diabetes-free future.