GSU researchers report discovery of a better test for prediabetes

By David Pendered

Researchers at Georgia State University think they’ve found a better way to detect prediabetes, a condition that can be a precursor of diabetes – the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

The researchers determined that using two blood sugar tests would improve the detection of the disease in American children and adults. The standard test today consists of one blood sugar test. The inclusion of a third common test does not improve results, researchers concluded.

Diabetes, Mexican salad

Healthy foods, such as the fresh vegetables in this Mexican Salad, are important in preventing and treating diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Credit: livestrong.com

This information could be very valuable in Georgia. Georgia’s diabetes rate has doubled from 1994 to 2013, from 5.2 per 100 adults to 10.4 per 100 adults, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Georgia exceeds the national average for diabetes, which is 9.3 percent, according to the CDC.

The most common test for prediabetes involves either a fasting plasma glucose test, or an oral glucose test. The first test, the FPG test, measures blood sugar after a person has fasted for a few hours. The oral glucose test measures blood sugar soon after a person consumes a certain amount of carbohydrate, according to a statement released by GSU’s School of Public Health.

Meanwhile, the American Diabetes Association recommends the use of a different test. The hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) test is used to diagnose type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes, CDC dashboard

Diabetes rates exceed 10.6 percent across most of Georgia, according to this dashboard created by the CDC. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The study, led by Dr. Ike Okosun, director of GSU’s Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, determined that a combination of the FPG and HbA1C tests produces a more accurate detection of prediabetes. These tests remains more accurate across age, race, ethnicity and body mass classifications than the use of only one of the tests.

“Given the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes, coming up with methods to catch the disease and stop the disease is a public health imperative,” Okosun said in the statement.

The report was based on an analysis of data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, as provided by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the GSU statement.

Okosun is a chronic disease epidemiologist who is an internationally recognized expert in the epidemiology of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, according to his resume at GSU. The co-authors are Dr. Rodney Lyn, a GSU associate professor of health management and policy; and Drs. J.P. Seale and Monique Davis-Smith, both with Mercer University’s School of Medicine.

Dr. Ike Okosun

Dr. Ike Okosun

The study was published in Frontiers in Public Health as, Improving Detection of Prediabetes in Children and Adults: Using Combinations of Blood Glucose Tests.

Current detection methods can miss prediabetes, resulting in a false sense of being free of the condition.

More than a quarter of all diabetes cases have not been diagnosed, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014, produced by the American Diabetes Association.

The report showed that, in 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population, had diabetes. Of these cases, 21 million were diagnosed and 8.1 million were undiagnosed.

The report showed that diabetes may be underreported as a cause of death. The report observed that:

  • “Studies have found that only about 35 percent to 40 percent of people with diabetes who died had diabetes listed anywhere on the death certificate and about 10 percent to 15 percent had it listed as the underlying cause of death.”

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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