Artificial intelligence in health data analysis: The Darwinian evolution theory suggests an extremely simple and zero-cost large-scale screening tool for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2021 Apr:174:108722. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2021.108722. Epub 2021 Feb 27.


Aims: The effective identification of individuals with early dysglycemia status is key to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes. We develop and validate a novel zero-cost tool that significantly simplifies the screening of undiagnosed dysglycemia.

Methods: We use NHANES cross-sectional data over 10 years (2007-2016) to derive an equation that links non-laboratory exposure variables to the possible presence of undetected dysglycemia. For the first time, we adopt a novel artificial intelligence approach based on the Darwinian evolutionary theory to analyze health data. We collected data for 47 variables.

Results: Age and waist circumference are the only variables required to use the model. To identify undetected dysglycemia, we obtain an area under the curve (AUC) of 75.3%. Sensitivity and specificity are 0.65 and 0.73 by using the optimal threshold value determined from external validation data.

Conclusions: The use of uniquely two variables allows to obtain a zero-cost screening tool of analogous precision than that of more complex tools widely adopted in the literature. The newly developed tool has clinical use as it significantly simplifies the screening of dysglycemia. Furthermore, we suggest that the definition of an age-related waist circumference cut-off might help to improve existing diabetes risk factors.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Genetic programming; Type 2 diabetes; Zero-cost dysglycemia screening.

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence / standards*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prediabetic State / diagnosis*