Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes are taking centre stage today, with specific populations more vulnerable than others. According to statistics, our country has the second largest number of people with this condition, at 77 million. Diabetes has multifactorial causation; understanding and identifying the risk factors is fundamental. Some of these include a family history of the disease, age, gender, lifestyle, etc. While some of these are modifiable, others are not, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing the condition. This is where the principles of primordial prevention become important with identifying "risk scores" or "tests" to determine the factors. Multiple risk scores are available for understanding a person's risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes. At the same time, American Diabetes Association has a risk score for diabetes (https://diabetes.org/risk-test) in India.
Nutrition Expert Ms Shilpa Joshi, Head of Metabolic Nutrition, Fitterfly, shares the two popular risk scores available:
Indian Diabetes Risk Score (IDRS)
IDRS was developed by Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study (CURES) cohort, called the Indian Diabetes Risk Score (IDRS). Developed using four simple parameters, namely age, abdominal obesity, family history of diabetes, and physical activity, it is cost-effective and helps distinguish type 2 from non-type two diabetes mellitus. A maximum score of 100 is given for these categories, and the following are the outcomes.
We have the largest pool of diabetes globally, and most cases go undiagnosed compared to the numbers in other countries. A diabetes risk score can help in effective screening and timely management of the risk factors for better health outcomes. Risk scores should nudge people to go for a blood test, confirm the diagnosis, and get help to prevent complications.
A moderate risk score helps people take lifestyle intervention more seriously and reconfirm its effectiveness by testing, and a low-risk score can easily be maintained by adopting lifestyle changes. In addition, because the overall awareness about diabetes and its related complications and timely screening are low, this assessment can motivate people to take the first step towards better health.
Advantages Of A Risk Score
A risk score is a simple, low-cost, and easily applicable screening parameter. When the modifiable risk factors are addressed, the risk score decreases. People with a high-risk score, irrespective of their blood sugar status, are the ideal subjects for lifestyle changes. This is because the factors may also signal possible cardiovascular ailments in the future.
A risk assessment can also enable people to check their blood sugar regularly. However, regardless of whether they get glucose testing or not, a high score indicates the benefits such individuals stand to gain by improving their lifestyle.
Then there are those instances where people with a high-risk score may be asymptomatic and therefore require blood glucose testing. But, again, this augurs well because at least 30% 60% of individuals with diabetes go undiagnosed, a significant risk factor for complications ahead.
Understanding that a person is at risk can help in undertaking tailor-made management programmes specific to their needs. However, the overarching benefit of risk score is that it allows people to get a blood test done to see if they have pre-diabetes and get help to prevent complications. The public health implications of such a process are, therefore, considerable.
Appropriate action at the right time can prevent the progression of diabetes and, therefore, the related complications and expenses. Nowadays, platforms enable you to tweak the diabetes risk assessment to suit the Indian audience and way of life. They help you calculate your risk based on various parameters and then enable you to customize your management plan. Taking the risk score is the first and most essential step in starting your diabetes management and remission journey.