What are diabetes risk scores used for? – healing practice

Study: How effective are diabetes risk scores?

So-called diabetes risk scores were developed so that specific questions could be used to assess a person's high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. A German research team is currently investigating the benefits that affected individuals derive from risk assessment.

In a study, researchers from the German Diabetes Center led by Professor Wolfgang Rathmann examined the effect of using diabetes risk scores on people who are overweight and have not yet received diagnosis of diabetes. The results were recently presented in the journal Acta Diabetologica.

What are diabetes risk scores?

A questionnaire-based test can be used to determine diabetes risk scores for a personal diabetes risk assessment. Among other things, factors such as waist circumference, eating habits or physical activity are questioned.

So far, however, it has hardly been verified whether this risk assessment has a specific benefit for overweight people. Does knowledge of an increased risk of diabetes actually cause people to change their lifestyle to avoid undesirable consequences?

Can risk scores prevent disease?

The working group of the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) has now carried out this review. “This new study is not only so important because it helps us better understand the consequences and side effects of diabetes prevention, but it also relates to the effects of using such risk questionnaires on the overweight population,” emphasizes Professor Michael Roden of the DDZ Board of Directors.

"Our scientists are therefore looking closely at how people's behavior changes after such tests and what conclusions we can draw from this in order to optimize the procedures," says Professor Roden.

course of the study

For the study, participants were divided into two groups during a general medical examination. In one group, the diabetes risk score was determined in addition to the routine examination.

Twelve months after the study, the team checked whether collecting diabetes risk scores provided any measurable additional health benefit to patients.

For example, it was examined whether there were changes in physical activity, body mass index, waist circumference, motivation for lifestyle changes and mental attitude.

No significant change due to diabetes risk scores

However, the differences between the two groups were modest. In the group in which diabetes risk scores were determined, only a slight increase in physical activity was observed.

For all other physical and mental factors, there were no significant differences between the two groups.

"The study on the effectiveness of diabetes risk scores in the primary medical setting, which experts have long requested, impressively shows that the use and classification of these results in the final discussion with the responsible physician does not are not sufficient to promote physical activity in this exposed group of people,” summarizes Dr. Seidel-Jacobs of the research team.

According to the DDZ working group, comparable studies of the effectiveness of risk scores for cardiovascular disease have come to similar conclusions.

The type of advice could have an impact

“It is possible that the type and intensity of the discussion between the family doctor and the patient in relation to the use of the diabetes risk scores has an influence on the effectiveness of the measure”, according to Professor Rathmann . He therefore recommends a review of counseling technique.

Diabetes risk scores alone are not enough

Finally, the DDZ researchers point out that the use of diabetes risk scores in the practices of general practitioners still makes sense, since the method represents a means of being able to objectively quantify the risk of developing diabetes.

As an intervention alone, however, the procedure is not sufficient to curb the further rise in the number of diabetes cases. (vb)

Author and source information

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


Esther Seidel-Jacobs, Fiona Kohl, Miguel Tamayo, et al. : Impact of applying a diabetes risk score in primary care on change in physical activity: a pragmatic cluster-randomized trial; in: Acta Diabetologica (2022), link.springer.comDDZ: What are the effects of diabetes risk scores in family practice? (published: June 28, 2022), ddz.de

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.