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  • An expert panel says diabetes screenings should begin at age 35 for overweight and obese Americans.
  • Rates of diabetes-related deaths were up 29% among young people last year.
  • Earlier screenings, interventions, and lifestyle changes can help prevent serious complications.
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American adults who are overweight or obese should now be screened for prediabetes and diabetes beginning at age 35 rather than 40, a US expert panel announced on Tuesday.

The earlier recommended screening age, issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is based on data published in JAMA finding that type 2 diabetes risk significantly increases at age 35.

The Covid-19 pandemic also exacerbated rates of diabetes among young people, with the United States seeing 29% more diabetes deaths last year among those aged 25 to 44, Reuters reported.

According to the Mayo Clinic, type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin (the hormone that regulates cells' uptake of sugar) and, at the same time, cells take in less sugar, leading to excess sugar circulating in the blood stream.

That high blood sugar that can lead to chronic illnesses like heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney disease.

The condition is typically caused by lifestyle factors like inactivity and poor diet. It can't be cured, but can be managed through diet, exercise, and medications. Earlier screenings - conducted through blood tests - can lead to earlier medical interventions and, the USPSTF contends, can help prevent diabetes-related deaths and heart attacks over 10 to 20 years.

The USPSTF is a government-backed panel of independent, volunteer experts in preventive and evidence-based medicine who uphold or update screening recommendations every five years.

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