Body chemistry changes that lead to Type 2 diabetes begin several years before symptoms become apparent, according to new research.
Researchers studying 6,538 people in the UK over almost 10 years found specific changes in blood glucose levels and sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
The University College London team examined how participants' blood glucose levels and the capacity of their tissues to respond to insulin - known as insulin sensitivity - changed over time. They also looked at how the insulin-producing beta-cells of the pancreas functioned during the study.
The scientists hope their work could help efforts to develop more accurate models to predict an individual's risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, meaning action could be taken to delay its progression.
Pav Kalsi, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK, said more research is needed: “Diabetes UK warmly welcomes any research that brings us closer to a way of accurately identifying individuals who could go on to develop Type 2 diabetes.
“This research looks into reduced pancreatic cell function and insulin resistance, both of which are well-known bio-markers that indicate if a person may develop Type 2 diabetes.
“Although these markers provide a good indication of future Type 2 diabetes, the lack of sensitivity and specificity means we cannot know for certain, so we would welcome further research into this promising area of study.
"Improving insulin resistance can reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. This can be achieved through lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and being more physically active.”
The findings, published in The Lancet, were presented to a meeting of the American Association of Diabetes in New Orleans, USA.