The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced on Tuesday, Oct. 27 that overweight adults, regardless if they have no clinical manifestations of type 2 diabetes should be screened for the disease.

In the new recommendation, the Task Force is urging all overweight individuals aged 40 to 70 years old to undergo testing even if they do not exhibit signs and symptoms. People who will be found to have high blood sugar levels but not exactly diabetes should be referred to comprehensive behavioral counseling for them to employ healthy dietary practices and physical activity that may help them to avoid or delay the disease.

"Losing weight reduces the chances of developing diabetes, which is why our recommendation focuses on diet and exercise," Dr William Phillips, member of the Task Force. "Patients who have abnormal blood sugar levels can be referred to programs that help them eat a more healthful diet and exercise more often."

Dr. Shelley Selph, lead author of a review on the topic for the Task Force said that the recommendation is essential because obesity, which is a significant risk factor for diabetes, is typical and being diagnosed with uncontrolled disease elevates a person's risk of illness and death. She added that if the disease can be prevented through proper diet and exercise, it may signify a reduction in heart problems and death.

In 2008, USPSTF recommended diabetes testing for individuals with high blood pressure; however, the team could not gather sufficient proof to justify the same protocol for overweight individuals with no clinical presentation of diabetes. The authors of the new recommendation said that since then, a total of six researches published in the Annals of Internal Medicine have found that lifestyle modifications to prevent diabetes are persistently helpful.

Dr. Michael P. Pignone, a member of the Task Force from the University of North Carolina said that any diagnostic procedure performed on healthy individuals may pose both beneficial and possible hazardous effects. With this, he said that it is crucial that they focus on tests that they know are effective.

The American Diabetes Association is thankful for the recommendation of the Task Force; however, they are not completely pleased. The Association said the newly released recommendation falls short of international guidelines and that narrowing the focus on individuals aged 40-70 years old implies that the age group with the most number of undiagnosed disease goes unrecognized. They added that adults aged 20-44 years old have an undiagnosed diabetes rate of nearly 60 percent more than in the entire adult population.

Approximately 86 million adults in the U.S. have abnormal blood sugar. The absence of lifestyle modifications may result in about 15-30 percent of the population to develop type 2 diabetes within half a decade.

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