US Task Force Lowers Diabetes Screening Age to 35

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), screening for Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes should now start at age 35 for people who are overweight or obese. That’s five years earlier than the U.S. government-backed panel of experts had previously recommended in 2015.

The updated guidance, published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), was prompted by the nation’s worsening diabetes crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the U.S. seeing a dramatic 29% spike in diabetes deaths last year among people ages 25 to 44.

The guidelines are specifically intended for people who are overweight or obese (defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 and greater than 30, respectively). Excess weight is considered one of the strongest risk factors for diabetes. 

About 32 million U.S. adults have Type 2 diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, blindness, and limb amputation. It is also associated with increased risks for fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

In addition, the CDC says about 88 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to meet the threshold for diabetes. 

The task force’s study pooled analysis of 23 earlier studies, which included 12,916 participants with prediabetes, revealed that lifestyle modifications lowered the risk of developing diabetes by 22% and the reduction in risk did not depend on age, gender, race, ethnicity, or BMI.

The task force’s report noted that screening for prediabetes and diabetes at a younger age, done via a simple blood test, should enable earlier detection, diagnosis, and treatment, with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes.

Prior research has also shown that awareness about having prediabetes or diabetes can help jumpstart the improved lifestyle behaviors that help manage these conditions and prevent related complications. Lifestyle modifications such as healthier eating, more exercise, and weight loss are seen as important first steps in preventing or treating the condition. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must fully cover testing that has been endorsed by the task force, with no out-of-pocket costs to a patient.

Timely identification of at-risk patients

Verinovum’s InFocus Cohort solution allows payers and providers to see near real-time data to better understand at-risk patients and extract timely insights to intervene effectively. InFocus Cohort provides daily lists of patients diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and other disease states.

InFocus Cohort can help your team:

  • Intervene with at-risk patients earlier
  • Gain visibility into health trends
  • Move the needle on the disease states that have the strongest financial impact

Learn how our InFocus Cohort solution can help your organization identify high-risk patients for targeted outreach and follow-up.