Only Other People Get Sick

Many people with elevated blood glucose levels or undiagnosed diabetes underestimate their probability of having or developing diabetes. This is the result of a study by DZD scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum München and the German Diabetes Center, which they carried out together with the Medical Faculty of the University of Duisburg-Essen. The journal ‘PLOS One’ has now published their results.

Within the framework of the KORA Study (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg), approximately 2000 persons were studied who had not yet received a diabetes diagnosis from their doctor and  who did not take any diabetes medications. First, they estimated their probability of having diabetes. This was followed by the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). The scientists then focused on the participants who had positive diabetes test results, which were still unknown to them.

Results: 74 % of these participants believed that their probability of having undetected diabetes was low or very low. In addition, more than 70% of persons with not yet manifest diabetes but with already elevated blood glucose levels – so-called prediabetes – indicated prior to the OGTT that they were not at risk of developing diabetes later on.

Conclusion: The scientists concluded that people are often too optimistic about their health. This has especially serious consequences in prediabetes and diabetes because those affected can decisively influence the course of the disease through lifestyle and medication.

People with the following factors have a high risk of developing the disease: overweight/obesity, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, smoking, and parental diabetes. They should have their blood glucose levels checked regularly.

Original publication:
Kowall, B. et al. (2017): Perceived risk of diabetes seriously underestimates actual diabetes risk: The KORA FF4 study. PLOS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.017115