A simple risk score identifies individuals at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study

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Randomized trials have demonstrated that Type 2 diabetes is preventable among high-risk individuals. To date, such individuals have been identified through population screening using the oral glucose tolerance test.


To assess whether a risk score comprising only routinely collected non-biochemical parameters was effective in identifying those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.


Population-based prospective cohort (European Prospective Investigation of Cancer-Norfolk). Participants aged 40–79 recruited from UK general practices attended a health check between 1993 and 1998 (n=25 639) and were followed for a mean of 5 years for diabetes incidence. The Cambridge Diabetes Risk Score was computed for 24 495 individuals with baseline data on age, sex, prescription of steroids and anti-hypertensive medication, family history of diabetes, body mass index and smoking status. We examined the incidence of diabetes across quintiles of the risk score and plotted a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve to assess discrimination.


There were 323 new cases of diabetes, a cumulative incidence of 2.76/1000 person-years. Those in the top quintile of risk were 22 times more likely to develop diabetes than those in the bottom quintile (odds ratio 22.3; 95% CI: 11.0–45.4). In all, 54% of all clinically incident cases occurred in individuals in the top quintile of risk (risk score > 0.37). The area under the ROC was 74.5%.


The risk score is a simple, effective tool for the identification of those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Such methods may be more feasible than mass population screening with biochemical tests in defining target populations for prevention programmes.

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