Before people develop Type 2 diabetes, they almost always have pre-diabetes—blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be clinically diagnosed as diabetes. These subjects often have a variety of associated characteristics that is termed “metabolic syndrome”—obesity, hyperinsulinemia, glucose intolerance, hypertension, dyslipidemia and elevated biomarkers of chronic inflammation.
Metabolic syndrome is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Thus, modification of lifestyle and dietary risk factors to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome are important in any attempts to ameliorate the development of these chronic diseases.
Generally speaking, Type 2 diabetes is primarily a disease that affects late-middle-aged and elderly individuals. Unfortunately, due to increasing affluence, lifestyle changes (e.g., smoking, reduced physical exercise) and obesity, it is also affecting younger age groups. The earlier onset of Type 2 diabetes in children seen in recent years has been associated with the obesity epidemic, and will mean that more people with diabetes will be entering middle age with significantly greater degrees of disability due to long-standing disease.
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