— Are you 55 years old or older?
— Are you obese? That is, do you have a body mass index of 30 or over? (If you’re 5’8″, you have a BMI of 30 once you hit 197 pounds.)
— Does your family have a history of diabetes?
That’s it! According to new research, people who answer yes to those questions have a 19.9 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within five years. By contrast, someone who answers no to all those questions (and has a BMI under 25 — that’s 164 pounds or less for our 5’8″ patient) has a 0.3 percent chance.
The research was performed by Dr. Harold Bays of the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center in Kentucky. He emphasized that this simple screening could be used to give patients a quick understanding of their risk factors without diving into a haze of other numbers and variables.
What’s more, he said, it emphasizes one crucial fact: Weight control can reduce patients’ risk of developing the disease. It’s truly as simple as that. “I think that’s a crucial message to be sent to patients,” Bays said. “It’s something that they can proactively address in order to reduce their risk of a serious disease.”
Bays said that if healthcare providers are currently using more sophisticated screening measures regularly, there’s not necessarily any reason for them to start using this one. For example, the American Diabetes Association has a seven-variable test for type 2 diabetes, which looks at age, race, family history, obesity, physical activity, hypertension, and gestational diabetes. But for clinicians who don’t screen patients, this three-point checklist is an easy way to begin.
Bays’ research was presented at the 2011 meeting of the Obesity Society.