One-third of English adults have pre-diabetes and are at risk of developing diabetes

Rates of pre-diabetes in England have risen sharply, according to new research carried out by the University of Leicester and the University of Florida. The pre-diabetes rates among English adults rose from about 12 per cent in 2003 to 35 per cent in 2011, according to the findings of a study, threatening a steep increase in diabetes in the coming years.

Dr Arch G. Mainous the study's lead author and chair of the Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy at the University of Florida 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.”

Pre-diabetes is defined as having blood glucose concentrations higher than normal, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. People with pre-diabetes 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 per cent of people with pre-diabetes will develop diabetes.

"We know that pre-diabetes is a major risk factor for developing diabetes," said Dr Mainous.  "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."

For the UF study, researchers analysed data collected in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2011 by the Health Survey for England. Sponsored by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care and the Department of Health, this population-based survey combines questionnaires with physical measurements and blood tests. The researchers classified survey participants as having pre-diabetes if they had a blood glucose level between 5.7 and 6.4 per cent, which the American Diabetes Association considers pre-diabetes, and if they indicated they had not previously been diagnosed with diabetes.

The 2011 data showed that 35 per cent of English adults and more than 50 per cent of adults aged 40 and older who were overweight had pre-diabetes. People with lower socio-economic status were at substantial risk for having pre-diabetes.

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

The findings of a study are published in BMJ Open.


A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
A disorder caused by insufficient or absent production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas, or because the tissues are resistant to the effects. Full medical glossary
The process of determining which condition a patient may have. Full medical glossary
An organ with the ability to make and secrete certain fluids. Full medical glossary
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One of two bean-shaped organs that are located on either side of the body, below the ribcage. The main role of the kidneys is to filter out waste products from the blood. Full medical glossary
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The light sensitive membrane that lines the back, inner surface of the eye and enables sight. Full medical glossary
Relating to the retina, the innermost layer of the eye. Full medical glossary
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