Impaired Fasting Glycaemia (Glucose in the blood)



A warning of developing Type 2 Diabetes

Impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) is sometimes called pre-diabetes. This is when blood glucose levels in the body are raised, but are not high enough to mean that the person has diabetes. IFG means that the body isn’t able to use glucose as efficiently as it should. This is because a layer of fat around the cells of the body, prevents insulin doing its job and taking the glucose into the cells of the body where it’s needed for energy. This situation is reversible by losing weight and hence the fat around the cells disappears. If you don’t lose weight however, is it unlikely that you won’t eventually develop Type 2 Diabetes.

IFG has no symptoms and can often go undiagnosed for years. Although there are no symptoms, many people diagnosed with IFG are overweight. Nine out of 10 people with IFG have high blood pressure, raised cholesterol levels or a family history of the condition.

IFG can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. People with IFG are five to 15 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people with normal glucose levels. However, this isn’t inevitable. You can take steps to reduce the chances of this happening. People with IFG also have a slightly increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

What do the test results mean?

  • If your fasting blood glucose level is between 3.6mmol/l and 6mmol/l, this means that your blood glucose level is normal.
  • If your fasting blood glucose level is 7mmol/l or higher, this is likely to mean that you have diabetes. Diabetes is a long-term condition where the body is not able to control the amount of glucose in the blood.
  • If your fasting blood glucose level is between 6.1mmol/l and 6.9mmols/l, you may have IFG.

Treatment of impaired fasting glycaemia

IFG doesn’t need medical treatment, but it’s important to try and lower your blood glucose levels by making changes to your lifestyle. This can help to prevent, or delay the development of type 2 diabetes.

If you have had an IFG level once, you should have regular fasting glucose tests every year.


People with IFG have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, therefore it’s important to do what you can to reduce your chances of developing these conditions. You should aim to reach and maintain normal or near-normal blood glucose levels. You can do this by:

  • losing excess weight if you’re overweight and then making sure your weight stays within the recommended range for your height
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet that is low in fat, high in fibre, low in salt and including plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Improving your fitness level by doing regular moderate physical activity (30 minutes a day at least five days a week)

As well as taking the steps above you can also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by giving up smoking.

Causes of impaired fasting glycaemia

IFG develops if your body becomes unable to control glucose levels. Your body may be unable to use insulin properly or produce less insulin. There are a number of factors that may make you more likely to develop IFG. If you’re black or South Asian and over 25, or if you’re white and over 40, and you have one or more of the following risk factors, then you may be at risk of IFG:

  • one of your parents, brother or sister has type 2 diabetes
  • you’re overweight or you carry extra weight around your middle rather than your hips and thighs
  • you have high blood pressure or you have had a heart attack or stroke
  • you have polycystic ovary syndrome and you are overweight
  • you have had diabetes during pregnancy
  • you have severe mental health problems

Symptoms to look out for

Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms, but if you do have symptoms they might include:

  • being thirsty
  • passing more urine than normal
  • re-occurring infections
  • blurred sight
  • slow healing of wounds

If you have any of these symptoms, you should talk to your GP.