Setting Blood Glucose Targets

Just how important is it to keep your blood sugar close to your target? According to one study, people with Type 1 diabetes can reduce the risk of the complications associated with diabetes - including the ones leading to blindness, kidney failure and amputation - by as much as 76 percent by lowering blood sugar to normal or near-normal levels. Other studies have shown reductions in complications of up to 25-70 percent for Type 2 patients.

Blood sugar targets vary from person to person and can even vary in the same person over time. You and your doctor should work together to determine what your target blood sugar range should be. Many doctors use guidelines developed by the American Diabetes Association as a starting point.

ADA Recommended Target Blood Sugar Levels
(Plasma Blood Glucose)

Normal Target Range for People with Diabetes
Plasma blood values *
Average pre-meal glucose (mg/dL) Less than 100 90-130
Average post-meal glucose (mg/dL) Less than 110 Less than 180

* Measurement of capillary blood glucose

© 2004 American Diabetes Association. From Diabetes Care, Vol. 27, Supplement 1, January 2004 Reprinted with permission from The American Diabetes Association

Note: The above values are for non-pregnant adults and are averaged for the entire population of people with diabetes. Patients with other diseases, as well as the very young, older adults, and people with unusual conditions or circumstances may need different target goals.

The table shows that people with diabetes should keep their blood glucose levels within a target range. Your doctor can determine a target that is appropriate for your individual health condition and lifestyle by considering such specifics as:

  • Your willingness to test your blood sugar levels frequently.

  • Your willingness to follow your treatment plan.

  • Your risk for severe hypoglycemia and your ability to recognize its symptoms.

  • Your age.

  • Other health conditions you might have, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, or pregnancy.

Blood glucose meters read either plasma values or whole blood values. Check the user manual that came with your meter to find out whether it reads plasma or whole blood.


The BD Diabetes Learning Center describes the causes of diabetes, its symptoms, and diabetes complications such as retinopathy and neuropathy. This site contains detailed information about blood glucose monitoring, insulin injection and safe sharps disposal. Interactive quizzes, educational literature downloads and animated demonstrations help to teach diabetes care skills.

Important Note: The content of this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Do not disregard your doctor's advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this website.

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