High prevalence of prediabetes could lead to wave of new cases of the full condition

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 79 million people in the U.S. have prediabetes, a condition that often develops into type 2 diabetes. Unless these individuals take steps to improve their health, the nation could soon face a flood of people with compromised metabolic health.

Prediabetes is characterized by a growing resistance in the body to the effects of insulin. After a while, as more tissue becomes immune to the effects of the hormone, blood sugar levels may increase to exceptionally high levels. At this point, a person can be described as having type 2 diabetes.

However, just because a person has prediabetes doesn't mean their condition will eventually progress to the full-blown disease. There are many things individuals can do to improve their metabolic health and avoid type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association says it is very possible to "turn back the clock" on metabolic health. By eating a healthier diet and losing weight the body may become more sensitive to the effects of insulin, leading to healthier blood sugar levels.

The group recommends that individuals with prediabetes exercise 30 minutes per day and eliminate 5 to 10 percent of their body fat. This could reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 58 percent.

Yet, despite the fact that type 2 diabetes is entirely preventable, even for those who have prediabetes, relatively few people take the necessary steps to improve their health. Up to 25 percent of the population gets no physical exercise whatsoever. Only about 50 percent meet recommendations for exercise.

Because of such low rates of exercise and high prevalence of prediabetes, researchers from the agency have projected that more than 30 percent of the population may develop type 2 diabetes by the year 2050.