People with prediabetes are not adopting the lifestyle changes that can ward off actual diabetes, but clinicians may be able to help turn this trend around.

Researchers analyzed data from 1,402 diabetes-free adults (aged 20 years and older) who participated in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (Am J Prev Med. 2010;38:403-409). The investigators assessed the extent to which those with prediabetes (fasting plasma glucose 100-125 mg/dL or two-hour plasma glucose 140-199 mg/dL) tried to control or lose weight, reduce the amount of fat or calories they consumed, or increase their physical activity or exercise over the past year.

Nearly 30% of the U.S. adult population had prediabetes during the survey period, but only 7.3% were aware that this was the case. Approximately half the participants with prediabetes reported engaging in risk-reduction behaviors in the preceding year, but only a third had received advice from their clinician regarding those behaviors during that time frame. People who sought advice, were overweight or obese, or were women were most likely to have engaged in all three risk-reduction behaviors.

“More efficient identification and awareness of risk on the part of patients, their providers, healthcare systems, and health payers are likely to be a key first step” in reversing the trends in national diabetes incidence, commented the investigators.

In other diabetes news:

Type 2 diabetes screening has been shown to be a cost-effective means of preventing diabetes-related complications and death when started in patients aged 30-45 years and repeated every three to five years. The study by Richard Kahn, MD, and colleagues was published online ahead of print by The Lancet on March 30, 2010.

The sooner those with newly diagnosed diabetes begin taking metformin, the longer the drug remains effective and patients can avoid taking additional medications to control the disease (Diabetes Care. 2010;33:501-506).