Diabetes screening test debate—what’s important for New Zealanders?

18 January 2017

Science lab vials in a blue tray

New research calls into question a blood test used to identify diabetes risk. But we shouldn’t throw out the baby with bathwater, warn Prof Jim Mann and Dr Paul Drury.

An Oxford University study and accompanying editorial, published in the British Medical Journal, have raised  questions regarding the most  appropriate approach to prevent or delay  the onset of  type 2 diabetes (T2DM) in people with prediabetes.

This topic is highly relevant to New Zealand where around quarter of a million  people are known to have diabetes, mostly T2DM.  Many more  have undiagnosed and asymptomatic diabetes and an even greater number are at high risk of developing T2DM; they are often described as having prediabetes.

Although published just days ago, there has already been debate in the British media regarding the government’s diabetes prevention programme in the light of these findings. It seems appropriate to consider their relevance  to New Zealand where the impact of T2DM is even greater than in the UK.

Professor Jim Mann, Director, Healthier Lives, and colleague Paul Drury, Honorary Consultant in Diabetes, Auckland District Health Board examine this research in the New Zealand context:

  • Is measuring haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a measure of blood sugar, a useful test for prediabetes?
  • What exactly is ‘prediabetes’, and how well is it defined?
  • Is there a case for retaining the HbA1c test?
  • What about individual versus population approaches to prevent diabetes?
  • Where do we find the right balance for us?

Read the full article in Sciblog:

Original British Medical Journal article, and editorial:

Healthier Lives diabetes research and news:

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