InDependent Diabetes Trust(IDDT) said "pre-diabetes" has recently crept into everyday medical language, with patients who are being told by health professionals that they have ‘pre-diabetes’ or ‘borderline diabetes’ without being given sufficient information.
Martin Hirst, IDDT’s CEO, said:
"Using this term is inappropriate and meaningless. There is no such medical condition and it is not only misleading patients but it is also worrying them.
"We are receiving large numbers of calls to our helpline from people who have been ‘diagnosed’ as such, asking for advice as to what they should do next.
"It appears that the tests being used to determine this term could apply to a third of all adults in England - approximately 18 million people who could fit into this category."
In July, US and UK researchers wrote in the British Medical Journal that "pre-diabetes" is an artificial category with virtually zero clinical relevance.
"There is no proven benefit of giving diabetes treatment drugs to people in this category before they develop diabetes, particularly since many of them would not go on to develop diabetes anyway," Professor John Yudkin told the BBC.
"More people are being included in the medical category of pre-diabetes without the evidence that they are going to benefit from the interventions."
IDDT said it is concerned that this group of people have no symptoms of ill-health but are being labelled with a false medical condition which can, in itself, create a new set of problems by worrying them about their future health.
Neither is there any evidence to suggest that treating people in this category with diabetes drugs has any beneficial effect, nor will it improve their risk of morbidity.
The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) has already stated that it does not believe that there should be a separate category, labelled, ‘pre-diabetes’ and the term is not recognised by the World Health Organisation either.
Given this lack of evidence and the number of people being labelled with ‘pre-diabetes,’ IDDT intends, as a top priority, to open the debate over this issue with health professionals and the Department of Health.
Dr Laurence Gerlis, an
IDDTTrustee and medical advisor, said: "The current thought is that there is nothing to be gained from either the patient’s or doctor’s viewpoint by diagnosing "pre-diabetes".
"Anyone who overeats and gains weight can develop diabetes.
"In that sense we are all pre–diabetic."