About a third of adults in the US have high blood sugar levels, a condition called pre-diabetes that often precedes type 2 diabetes and can progress to full-blown disease. Most are unaware that they have the condition, which causes no obvious symptoms, and so screening is essential, said Dr. barry.
Being overweight or obese is the main risk factor for the most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and for prediabetes. Lifestyle changes — including getting more exercise, eating healthier, and even losing a modest amount of weight — can prevent the progression from pre-diabetes to full-blown diabetes. (Drug treatment is also an option.)
Screening generally includes a blood test to determine if blood sugar (or glucose) levels are elevated. The task force called for the age of first screening to be lowered to 35 years, because then the prevalence of type 2 diabetes begins to rise. Screening should be done every three years until age 70, the task force said.
dr. Tannaz Moin, an endocrinologist who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the new recommendations, said lowering the age for screening was a step in the right direction and she was pleased that the guidelines emphasized the importance of detecting pre-diabetes. .
“There is much more recognition that pre-diabetes is a major problem that often flies under the radar,” she said. It is critical to detect pre-diabetes in younger adults, as they may live a long time with diabetes if they develop it at a relatively young age, and are at greater risk of developing complications.
Intense lifestyle interventions that target moderate weight loss and include 150 minutes of exercise per week may prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in overweight or obese people with prediabetes. A drug, metformin, is also an option, but is not as beneficial as lifestyle changes.
“We have really good evidence that we can slow the onset of type 2 diabetes if we get people with pre-diabetes to do something about their risk,” said Dr. mon. “It’s the same for people with type 2 diabetes: once we know they have it, we have a whole toolbox of things we can offer them.”