1 in 2 Adults Will Develop Pre-Diabetes

1 in 2 Adults Will Develop Pre-Diabetes1 in 2 Adults Will Develop Pre-Diabetes

Almost half of 45-year-olds will develop so-called pre-diabetes, an elevated blood sugar level that often precedes diabetes, according to a study from The Netherlands using population estimates.

Pre-diabetes, sometimes called impaired glucose metabolism, has no clear symptoms, but people with higher than normal blood sugar based on a blood test should be tested for diabetes every one or two years, according to the American Diabetes Association, Reuters reported.

 “We have known this from previous studies – but what this study adds is a method of communicating risk in a better way – a person’s lifetime risk of developing diabetes,” said Dr. Kamlesh Khunti of Leicester General Hospital in the UK.

One in three healthy 45-year-olds will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime, Khunti said.

Researchers from Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston used long-term data on 10,000 adults in The Netherlands, including medical records, hospital discharge letters, pharmacy dispensing data and fasting blood sugar measurements.

They followed people for about 15 years, categorizing their blood sugar levels according to WHO standards. Blood sugar levels of 6 millimoles/per liter (108 milligrams per deciliter) or less are considered normal or healthy. Levels above this figure are considered elevated or pre-diabetic, and levels of 7mmol/L or greater are diabetes.

Over 15 years, a total of 1,148 people developed elevated blood sugar levels, 828 developed diabetes and 237 started taking insulin to control it.

The study team translated these results into population risk levels at age 45, and found that about half the people would develop pre-diabetic blood sugar levels before their death, 30% would develop full blown diabetes and 9% would start taking insulin.

About three-quarters of those with elevated blood sugar at age 45 would go on to develop diabetes, and half of those who already had diabetes would start taking insulin, they report in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

People should maintain healthy diet and exercise patterns to reduce their diabetes risk, Khunti said.