Published on 11 June 2014

Researchers have warned people to improve their diet and lifestyles as a new report shows a sharp rise in the rates of prediabetes in England.

According to University of Florida researchers working with the University of Leicester,
unless changes are made, the nation may experience a steep increase in diabetes in the coming years.
Prediabetes rates among English adults rose from about 12% in 2003 to 35% in 2011, according to the findings of a study published recently in BMJ Open.
Arch G. Mainous III, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and chair of the department of health services research, management and policy at UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions, said: “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.”
Study co-author Professor Richard Baker, M.D., a professor of quality in healthcare at the University of Leicester Department of Health Sciences said: “The study is an important signal that we need to take action to improve our diet and lifestyles. If we don’t, many people will have less healthy, shorter lives.”
Prediabetes is defined as having blood glucose concentrations higher than normal, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. People with prediabetes have a greater risk than people with normal blood glucose levels of vascular problems, kidney disease, and nerve and retinal damage. Each year, between 5 and 10 percent of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes.
“We know that prediabetes is a major risk factor for developing diabetes,” added Dr Mainous. “We also know that interventions in the form of medications or lifestyle changes are successful in preventing diabetes. It’s better to stop diabetes before it develops.”

For the study, researchers analysed data collected in 2003, 2006, 2009 and the population-based survey combined questionnaires with physical measurements and blood tests. The researchers classified survey participants as having prediabetes if they had a blood glucose level between 5.7 and 6.4%, which the American Diabetes Association considers prediabetes, and if they indicated they had not previously been diagnosed with diabetes.
The 2011 data showed that 35% of English adults and more than 50% of adults aged 40 and older who were overweight had prediabetes. People with lower socio-economic status were at substantial risk for having prediabetes.
England’s prediabetes rates are similar to those in the United States, where 36 percent of adults are estimated to have the condition, but England’s rates climbed more steeply than the United States’ over a similar time period. While the exact cause for the rapid rise is unknown, it may be linked to increases in obesity in England in the late 1990s. Metabolic changes associated with weight gain may take several years to develop.

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