New Recommendations Say That Diabetes Screening Should Begin at Age 35 for Overweight Americans

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and new screening guidelines are being recommended to try to save more of those lives.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued new recommendations that adults who are overweight or obese begin screening for prediabetes and diabetes at the age of 35. Their prior recommendation, made in 2015, had been 40. These screenings should also continue through the age of 70. The task force’s new guidance was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The hope is that more cases can be caught early and preventative measures can be taken sooner.


A bulletin from the task force explains, “If screening shows that someone has prediabetes, effective preventive interventions may prevent or delay diabetes from developing. Lifestyle changes such as adjustments to diet and physical activity are effective in helping to prevent diabetes and also improve weight, blood pressure, and lipid levels. Metformin, a diabetes medication, is also an effective intervention that may prevent or delay diabetes, but it has fewer overall health benefits than lifestyle changes.”

They believe if these new recommendations are followed and people make such changes, there will be a benefit to health outcomes nationwide. It could impact a lot of people, as the task force explains that about 13% of American adults have diabetes, while nearly 35% have prediabetes. However, many may not be aware that they have either condition.

The recommendation statement explains, “Of persons with diabetes, 21.4% were not aware of or did not report having diabetes, and only 15.3% of persons with prediabetes reported being told by a health professional that they had this condition.”


There are certain groups that may benefit from even earlier screening, as well. The task force says that includes those with higher rates of diabetes, like Native, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, Black, and Latino populations. It may also be beneficial for those with a family history of diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes, or a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome.

They note that there’s limited information on the best time interval between tests for a person with a healthy blood sugar reading. However, they say evidence suggests that in that case, screening every three years should be enough.

The task force is encouraging doctors to use these recommendations with their patients to help them maintain their health.

Task force member Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng, says, “Clinicians can prevent serious health complications by screening adults with overweight or obesity for prediabetes and diabetes. With appropriate screening, diabetes can be detected and treated earlier to improve overall health.”


The task force is also encouraging doctors to refer prediabetes patients to effective preventative interventions.

To learn more, you can read the recommendation statement here.

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