The Human Nutrition team of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Reus has collaborated with the Jordi Gol Institute for Primary Care Research to publish a study that demonstrates how being overweight, smoking, having a family history of diabetes, consuming high quantities of alcohol, high tension and high levels of blood sugar are all related to an increased risk of developing diabetes in the future. They created questionnaire based on these factors in order to easily identify at an early stage those people who are at risk of developing diabetes. This study has been published in the international scientific medical journal PLoS ONE.
The Human Nutrition team at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.
To date, the design of questionnaires for predicting diabetes has been based on young, apparently healthy people from non-Mediterranean populations. The method described by the researchers at the URV has been designed to predict diabetes in Mediterranean populations with high cardiovascular risk.
To design the questionnaire, the researchers used data from participants in the PREDIMED study. This study was carried out in different parts of Spain and aimed to determine whether the Mediterranean diet can prevent cardiovascular diseases in old people at risk of these diseases. It was an eight year study that was completed a few months ago and which looked at more than 7,400 participants (877 from the Reus-Tarragona area).
To test the efficacy of this new questionnaire, it was applied to a different population from the one in the PREDIMED study, namely the participants in the DE-PLAN-CAT study led by Dr Bernardo Costa of the Catalan Institute of Health. This project involved more than 2,500 individuals in Catalonia and confirmed not only that intensive intervention in a person’s lifestyle is feasible in primary care but also that it significantly delays the onset of diabetes.
The questionnaire contains 6 easily answered questions such as: Do you smoke? Has any member of your family suffered diabetes? Each time a respondent answers ‘yes’ to one of these questions, he/she is given two points, except for the question regarding glucose, which is worth 4 points. The maximum score is 14 points, and the higher the score, the greater the risk of getting diabetes in the future.
The questionnaire is very easy and quick to apply in daily clinical practice, and avoids the need for more complex biochemical evaluations or more costly tests such as the oral glucose tolerance test. The PREDIMED and DE-PLAN-CAT studies have shown that the questionnaire has a proven efficiency of 78% and that it will save the time of both the doctor and the patient by helping to detect early on those individuals with a high risk of developing diabetes, thus preventing future health complications in the patient and reducing health costs.
This study has been published in the scientific journal, PLoS ONE, by members of the PREDIMED-Reus study led by Professor Jordi Salas-Salvadó, the DE-PLAN-CAT study led by the Human Nutrition team at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, CIBERobn and the Carles III Health Institute, and with the collaboration of the Jordi Gol Institute for Primary Care Research. The PREDIMED study and the DE-PLAN-CAT are principally funded by the Carles III Health Institute, the main public body that funds health research.
The number of people with diabetes has increased significantly in recent years alongside the obesity epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 180 million diabetics in the world, and it is estimated that in developed countries the number of diabetics will increase by 20% between 2010 and 2030.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to complications such as blindness or kidney and cardiovascular diseases. All these changes significantly reduce quality of life and life expectancy and constitute an enormous cost for the health systems in all countries. For this reason, it is essential to detect early on those individuals at risk of developing the condition.