Age is just one factor that can impact glucose levels. Young children, teens, adults, and senior citizens may have different blood sugar goals. This chart details the clinical guidelines for various age groups.
Keeping track of your blood sugar is a key part of diabetes management.
Diabetes is different for everyone, meaning goals may vary for each person. Those goals will depend on many factors, including age. There’s no textbook definition for what your blood sugars should be based on how old you are, but clinical guidelines do offer some detail on starting points to consider when deciding on your personalized management plan with your diabetes care team.
We have a chart below offering that glucose level guidance based on age, to use as a starting point in deciding with your healthcare professionals what might be best for you.
Many health authorities — including the
The 2023 standards of care from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) are also a guiding document for people with diabetes, as many professionals in the diabetes field follow this set of guidelines when working with their patients.
However, a specific glucose value or range isn’t always possible even from the ADA, as the diabetes organization and many others often rely on the 3-month average test known as the hemoglobin A1C. Established in the early 1990s, the A1C remains the gold standard of diabetes management; even though the ADA and many diabetes experts note it has limitations, such as not properly accounting for blood sugar variability.
Still, the ADA states in its guidelines that various age groups should generally work toward a specific A1C, though that too may depend on your own individual circumstances and can depend on what you and your diabetes care team feels is best for you.
The ADA uses an “A1C to glucose converter” known as estimated average glucose (eAG), to help guide people with diabetes and their clinicians in deciding what might be best for glycemic targets.
This chart details goals for specific groups of people with diabetes, based on age.
|Before meals (fasting)||After eating|
|Children and teens|
|80–130 mg/dL||< 180 mg/dL|
(1 or 2 hours after)
|70–95 mg/dL||110–140 mg/dL|
(1 hour after);
(2 hours after)
|65 and older|
|99 mg/dL or below||140 mg/dL|
Keep in mind, age alone isn’t a deciding factor on where blood sugars should be.
“Overall, regardless of the population being served, it is critical for the glycemic targets to be woven into the overall person-centered strategy,” the ADA‘s 2023 guidelines state, giving the following examples:
- “In a very young child, safety and simplicity may outweigh the need for glycemic stability in the short run. Simplification may decrease parental anxiety and build trust and confidence, which could support further strengthening of glycemic targets and self-efficacy.”
- “In healthy
older adults, there is no empiric need to loosen control; however, less stringent … goals may be appropriate for patients with limited life expectancy or where the harms of treatment are greater than the benefits.”
You should always work with your diabetes care team on deciding your blood sugar targets and where you believe they should be.
For either T1D or T2D, ensuring
For example, the American Diabetes Association changed its glucose level guidance in 2015 to reflect a change in thinking about overtreating and hypoglycemia concerns.
Some of the other factors that help determine your target goals may include:
- type of diabetes
- length of time you’ve had diabetes
- whether you have a pattern of high or low blood sugars
- before eating (fasting) levels
- after eating (post-prandial) levels
- whether you can feel low blood sugars (hypoglycemia awareness)
- time of day
- people who are pregnant
- other health conditions (comorbidities)
- if you’re living with certain diabetes-related complications that impact your management
Aside from those factors, you might also have varying blood sugar goals depending on the many items that can impact your blood sugars. There are at least 42 factors known to impact your blood sugars, and just some of those include:
- exercise and activity levels
- insulin amounts active in your body
- medications you take that might impact glucose levels
- stress levels
Time in range
Whatever your personalized target goals may be for blood sugars, it’s important to consider a newer concept known as “time in range.” This is becoming a more recognized standard in determining how you’re managing your diabetes, based largely on continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) data.
For any of your target glucose ranges, diabetes experts recommend that nonpregnant adults with diabetes try for 70% of their blood sugars to be within their target range. Others may have differing TIR goals, such as over 50% for older adults or those at higher risk of hypoglycemia.
You can learn more about “normal” blood sugars here.
Maintaining blood sugars (glucose levels) in your target range is a key part of diabetes management. Age is just one of many factors that might impact your individual goals. Those targets may be higher overnight when you’re asleep, they may be higher if you’re prone to low blood sugar events, or they may be higher if you’re less likely to be able to safely treat those reactions.
It’s important to work with your healthcare team on your individual diabetes management plan and what target goals might be best for you, no matter your age.