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New cut-off point recommended for diagnosing prediabetes

A new study in the BMJ reports that the cut-off scores for defining whether someone has prediabetes needs revising.

Prediabetes, a term that is often used interchangeably with metabolic syndrome, exists when a person is diagnosed with high blood sugar levels near-characteristic of type 2 diabetes.

Someone who is diagnosed with prediabetes will also usually have higher than normal blood sugar levels after eating, and/or raised HbA1c levels.

The cut-off points at which a person’s blood sugar is considered abnormal vary across guidelines and countries.

This study suggests that health risks associated with prediabetes seem to increase at the lower cut-off point for blood sugar levels recommended by some guidelines.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines prediabetes as fasting glucose levels of 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/L, while NICE considers abnormal anything above 7.0 mmol/L.

After conducting a meta-analysis of 53 studies, involving over 1.6 million individuals, researchers from Southern Medical University in China found that risk assessment for prediabetes should be reviewed.

They found that the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality from prediabetes tend to be higher in people with fasting blood sugar levels as low as 5.6 mmol/L.

This corresponds to the American Diabetes Association (ADA)’s lower cut-off point for impaired fasting blood sugar levels.

Aside from having blood sugar levels regularly tested, the most effective preventative tools in our arsenal against prediabetes remain eating a balanced diet and exercising often.

The new findings highlight that the problem of labelling people as having prediabetes is that these categories are unstable and the risk progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes differs between populations.

This could therefore have implications for the classification and prevention of prediabetes in the UK.


Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 is commonly known as Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 is commonly known as Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that results in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to the body:

  • Being ineffective at using the insulin it has produced; also known as insulin resistance and/or
  • Being unable to produce enough insulin

Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the body being unable to metabolise glucose (a simple sugar). This leads to high levels of blood glucose which over time may damage the organs of the body.

From this, it can be understood that for someone with diabetes something that is food for ordinary people can become a sort of metabolic poison. This is why people with diabetes are advised to avoid sources of dietary sugar.

The good news is for very many people with type 2 diabetes this is all they have to do to stay well. If you can keep your blood sugar lower by avoiding dietary sugar it’s likely you will never need long-term medication.

Type 2 diabetes was formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes due to its occurrence mainly in people over 40. However, type 2 diabetes is now becoming more common in young adults, teens and children and accounts for roughly 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.

Type 2 diabetes statistics

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), more than 371 million people across the globe have diabetes and this figure is predicted to rise to over 550 million by 2030.

Of the total global diabetes rate, 90% are living with type 2 diabetes but it is estimated that up to half of these people are unaware of their condition (undiagnosed diabetes).

In the UK, more than 2.7 million people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes whilst a further 750,000 people are believed to have the symptoms but are yet to be diagnosed with the disease.

How serious is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition that often requires the use of anti-diabetic medication, or insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. However the development of type 2 diabetes and its side effects (complications) can be prevented if detected and treated at an early stage.

Following pre-diabetes or metabolic disorder, type 2 diabetes can potentially be avoided through diet and exercise.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the hormone insulin is not used effectively by the cells in your body. Insulin is needed for cells to take in glucose (sugar)…

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