Awareness of pre-diabetes growing

EAST HANOVER, N.J. Nearly 77 million Americans are estimated to be pre-diabetic or at increased risk for developing diabetes in the future, leading to a growing awareness about and increased use of the designation “pre-diabetes” in the healthcare market, according to new research from GfK Market Measures’ Roper Global Diabetes Group. The pre-diabetic patient population is helping fuel growth in the number of diagnosed diabetes patients in the United States, which last year rose 7 percent to 16.6 million over the prior year.

“Two findings contrast the varying degree to which this pre-diabetes group is serious about preventing or delaying a diabetes diagnosis,” stated David Jacobson, senior vice president of GfK Market Measures’ Roper Global Diabetes Group. “On one hand, nearly a quarter of patients don’t take any steps to treat their pre-diabetic condition, representing a market segment that, given the right messaging, might in time be swayed to adopt novel treatment therapies. Conversely, we are encouraged by the proactive behavior we discovered on the part of other patients. Nearly 20 percent of all pre-diabetes patients report having been recommended to test for sugar, and more than 10 percent of all pre-diabetes patients report actually testing—with more than half of them testing once or more a week.”

As an indication of healthcare providers’ and patients’ increased adoption of the term “pre-diabetes,” a recent study revealed that almost 70 percent of patients diagnosed with diabetes within the past year were told by their physician that they were in some way pre-diabetic, compared with 50 percent of patients diagnosed with diabetes more than a year ago. With no market projections for the entire pre-diabetes market available, GfK Market Measures’ Roper Global Diabetes Group used its 2007 U.S. Pre-Diabetes Patient Market Study as a basis to estimate a population of 76.8 million pre-diabetes and at-risk patients, comprised of 22.8 million Americans who have been formally diagnosed with a pre-diabetic condition and another 54 million who are at increased risk for developing diabetes in the future but have not yet been diagnosed with a pre-diabetic condition. Without intervention, pre-diabetes patients will progress to Type 2 diabetes at a rate of 10 percent per year, according to the National Diabetes Education Program.

In terms of age, the diagnosed pre-diabetes population tends to be younger than the undiagnosed population, with 87 percent under age 64 (compared with 80 percent under age 64 for undiagnosed patients) with an average age of 45 (compared with an average age of 48 for undiagnosed patients).

Specific to gender, the diagnosed population is more likely than the undiagnosed population to be female (60 percent compared with 40 percent). Regarding weight, while both categories are equally likely to experience morbid obesity at 17 percent each, diagnosed patients are far less likely to fall into the obese category, at 23 percent compared with 37 percent of undiagnosed patients. Finally, in terms of conditions, the profile of diagnosed patients reveals that more than 50 percent report having a family history of Type 2 diabetes, compared with 30 percent of undiagnosed patients. Hypertension and cholesterol problems seem to affect both patient categories similarly, with nearly 40 percent of each reporting these conditions.

GfK’s research revealed that only 9 percent of diagnosed patients report taking prescription medication to treat their pre-diabetic condition. For both diagnosed and undiagnosed patients with a weight situation, treatment with a prescription medication is even less common with only 1 percent of patients using medication. But 76 percent of all pre-diabetes patients report taking prescription medication for their high blood pressure and more than 50 percent take a prescription for their cholesterol problems.

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