Overweight or obese adults in the United States are being encouraged to be screened for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes starting when they are 35 years old. The new recommendations, coming from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), are a break from the previous recommendation that screening start at age 40.
The USPSTF recommends that all non-pregnant adults between 35 and 70 years of age who are overweight or obese and have no symptoms of diabetes should be screened every 3 years.
Multiple tests can be used to determine whether a person has prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Most often, healthcare professionals measure fasting plasma glucose level, measure HbA1c level or use an oral glucose tolerance test.
Prevention intervention recommendations
In its updated guidelines, the USPSTF has also moved away from recommending that clinicians “offer or refer patients with abnormal blood glucose levels to intensive behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthful diet and physical activity.”
Instead, clinicians should provide patients with preventive interventions options, such as lifestyle interventions that focus on diet, physical activity or both as well as possible medication.
Diabetes in the U.S.
In 2017, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
Nationwide, it is estimated that 13 percent of adults in the U.S. have diabetes, with an additional 34.5 percent being considered prediabetic.
More than 1 in 5 adults with diabetes did not know they had the disease. Additionally, only 15 percent of adults with prediabetes reported they were told by their healthcare professional that they had the condition.
Diabetes can lead to other health issues, including kidney failure and blindness and is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, among others.
Early screening can allow doctors and healthcare professionals to detect early onset of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Long term, this can improve health outcomes for diagnosed individuals.