Background: To determine risk for type 2 diabetes in subjects with fasting glucose levels in the ranges of normoglycemia, mild hyperglycemia, and intermediate hyperglycemia and to assess the effect of obesity and metabolic syndrome on this risk.
Subjects and methods: Incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus was evaluated in 28,209 relatively healthy subjects participating in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study. They were included in the study if they had more than 1 fasting plasma glucose measurement, anthropometry, and other parameters of interest. Three subgroups were identified: normoglycemic (<5.6 mmol/L), mild hyperglycemia (5.6-6.0 mmol/L), and intermediate hyperglycemia (6.1-7.0 mmol/L). Diabetes incidence was calculated in categories of sex, age, obesity, and metabolic syndrome status. Incident diabetes was assessed at the earliest clinic visit at which the individual exhibited a blood glucose level of more than 7.0 mmol/L or reported a diagnosis of diabetes.
Results: Thirty-one percent of men and 15.9% of women had mild hyperglycemia and 11.9% of men and 3.6% of women had intermediate hyperglycemia. Yearly conversion rates to diabetes were low in individuals with normoglycemia and mild hyperglycemia but were strikingly higher in those with intermediate hyperglycemia. In subjects with intermediate hyperglycemia, presence of obesity and/or metabolic syndrome doubled conversion rates to diabetes.
Conclusions: This study showed a marked difference in outcomes in subjects with mild and intermediate hyperglycemia. Moreover, obesity and metabolic syndrome were associated with strikingly elevated risk for diabetes in subjects with intermediate hyperglycemia. Thus intermediate hyperglycemia plus obesity/metabolic syndrome seemingly justifies intensive clinical intervention for prevention of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease.