Sharp Uptick In Pre-Diabetes Observed In England
June 10, 2014

Sharp Uptick In Pre-Diabetes Observed In England

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

While diabetes has been a major public health threat in the US for some time, a new report published in the journal BMJ Open has found that rates of pre-diabetes in England have risen sharply. This means that without significant interventions, the country could see a spike in diabetes within the coming years.

“The rapid rise was exceptionally surprising and suggests that if something doesn’t happen, there is going to be a huge increase in the prevalence of diabetes,” said study author Arch G. Mainous III, chair of the department of health services research, management and policy at the University of Florida.

Pre-diabetes is described as having blood glucose levels greater than normal, but not sufficient for a diabetes prognosis. Individuals with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of vascular difficulties, kidney disease, as well as nerve and retinal damage. Annually, between 5 and 10 percent of people with pre-diabetes will acquire diabetes.

“The study is an important signal that we need to take action to improve our diet and lifestyles,” added co-author Dr. Richard Baker, a professor of quality in healthcare at the University of Leicester. “If we don’t, many people will have less healthy, shorter lives.”

In the study, scientists examined information collected in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2011 by the Health Survey for England. The population-based survey includes questionnaires, taking physical measurements and blood tests. The scientists categorized survey volunteers as having pre-diabetes if they possessed a blood glucose level between 5.7 and 6.4 percent, the American Diabetes Association standard for pre-diabetes, and if they stated they had not already been diagnosed with diabetes.

The 2011 information revealed that 35 percent of English adults and greater than 50 percent of adults over 40 who were overweight had pre-diabetes. Individuals with lower socioeconomic status were at a much greater risk for having pre-diabetes, the researchers found.

“We know that pre-diabetes is a major risk factor for developing diabetes,” Mainous said. “We also know that interventions in the form of medications or lifestyle changes are successful in preventing diabetes. It’s a lot better to stop diabetes before it develops.”

While England’s current rate of pre-diabetes is similar to that in the US, where 36 percent of adults are estimated to have the condition, the British rates have climbed more quickly than Americans’ over a similar time frame. While the precise reason for the rise is unknown, the researchers said it could be connected to increases in obesity in England in the late 1990s. The metabolic changes affiliated with weight gain could take several years to develop, the study authors pointed out.

"Unless we make people aware of their risk of type 2 diabetes and support them in changing their lifestyles, we could see an even greater increase in the number of people with the condition than we are already expecting,” Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, told The Guardian in reaction to the study. “A tenth of the (National Health Service) budget is already being spent on diabetes and unless we get much better at preventing type 2 diabetes this spending will soon rise to unsustainable levels.”