U.S. Task Force Lowers Diabetes Screening Age


TOPEKA – As diabetes prevalence in the U.S. surges among children and adults, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has lowered its recommended screening age for overweight adults from 40 to 35.

Previous guidelines issued in 2015 recommended this measure for overweight adults aged 40 to 70 years. The new recommendation comes as data suggest that incidence of diabetes increases at age 35 compared with younger ages; at-risk individuals should be screened every three years from ages 35 to 70.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 84 million American adults aged 18 years and older have prediabetes, which is approximately 1 out of 3. Of those, 90% do not know they have it. In Kansas, almost eleven percent (10.8%) of adults aged 18 and older have diabetes, 2019 Kansas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (KS BRFSS) data show. In 2018, 9.7% of Kansas adults aged 18 years and older had ever been diagnosed with prediabetes or borderline diabetes.

Overweight and obesity constitute the main risk factors for both type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.­ According to the 2019 KS BRFSS, around 35.2% of Kansas adults are obese, and 69.9% are overweight or obese.

As the disproportionately high incidence and prevalence of these conditions are seen among certain minority groups, researchers stressed the importance of screening vulnerable populations, adding that heightened risk groups may need to begin screening earlier than age 35.

The number of people with diabetes is over 40 percent higher among Hispanic/Latino (14.5%) and non-Hispanic Black (15.3%) persons than among non-Hispanic White (8.7%) persons. There are strong associations between the number of people with diabetes and social factors such as socioeconomic status, education, disability status, as well as food and physical environments.

Meredith Slan, diabetes health educator at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), noted that one issue that needs to be addressed is the low rate of referral to diabetes prevention programs for adults with prediabetes. One key feature of the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is the CDC-recognized lifestyle change program that focuses on healthy eating and physical activity. Slan also emphasized the availability of HALTdiabetesKS.com, a free virtual diabetes prevention program platform available through KDHE.

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