Prevalence, prediction, prevention and screening
The prevalence of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, is experiencing a rapid growth. Part of this is due to the population reaching a higher age, and part is due to the explosive rise in overweight and obesity over the past 10 to 15 years. The major reason for the increase in overweight and obesity is that people consume too many calories and engage in an insufficient amount of physical activity. People who are at risk of developing diabetes can delay or prevent the onset of the disease by making lifestyle changes.
The increased prevalence of diabetes coupled with the fact that people with diabetes have a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease has led several countries to recommend early detection of and screening for diabetes. Identifying people at risk of developing diabetes can be done in several ways - for example, by a mass screening of the adult population or by implementing screening strategies aimed at detecting people with a high risk of developing the disease.
Known precursors and risk factors of diabetes include overweight, obesity, increased blood pressure, age, sex, and a history of diabetes in the family.
This research group focuses on diabetes epidemiology, by describing the risk factors for diabetes and its precursors, and in primary prevention by developing screening strategies, and testing the effect of early intervention.
The group’s mission is to develop preventive strategies for persons with reduced glucose metabolism and early treatment strategies for persons with type 2 diabetes. These strategies are to be based on an understanding of the relative importance of the individual risk factors and the complex interaction between the physiological mechanisms and the genetic and environmental factors that lead to the development of the disease.
The group will achieve this through the following work:
1. By combining the physiological and biological understanding of the disease process, the group will develop preventive strategies for diabetes, reduced glucose metabolism, and the metabolic syndrome.
2. Describe the development of diabetes and its precursors both in Denmark and globally. Additionally, the group will develop global screening strategies for diabetes and reduced glucose metabolism.
3. Through intervention studies, the group will assess whether prevention and early treatment can prevent or postpone the development of diabetes from its precursors. The group will also assess whether early intensive treatment of persons who receive a diagnosis of diabetes after screening will reduce their risk of complications and death.
4. Working in close relationship with the other research groups at Steno, the group will examine gene-environment interactions that lead to the development of diabetes and reduced glucose metabolism.