A panel of experts said screening for type 2 diabetes or prediabetes in some people, especially those who are obese or overweight, should start at age 35 instead of 40.

The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPTF) said such diabetes screening should continue until the age of 70.

Dr. Michael Barry of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who is a member of USPTS, said, “Health care providers can help people improve their health by screening those who are overweight or obese for prediabetes and diabetes. Screening and earlier detection can help prevent prediabetes and diabetes from getting worse and leading to other health problems.”

One expert said age plays a key role and it could make a real difference.

Dr. Emily Gallagher of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City said, “From my perspective, these guidelines are important. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease and blindness in the U.S., these are preventable diseases.”

“Unfortunately, people are still often unaware that they have diabetes, and they only discover they have diabetes when they develop a complication such as a heart attack, or foot ulcer,” she added.

When the screening catches prediabetes, “lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet and increased exercise may help prevent diabetes and also lower weight, blood pressure and lipid levels,” according to the task force.

Dr. Gallaghar notes, “The clinical course of prediabetes and diabetes can be altered by earlier intervention. Newer therapies for diabetes can not only improve diabetes control but also reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.”

Another USPTF member, Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng, said, “The task force found there are effective ways to help people who have prediabetes lower their risk of diabetes and improve their overall health.”

“Clinicians and patients should discuss these benefits and choose the approach that works best for each individual,” Dr. Tseng added.

In the United States, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death. If poorly controlled, diabetes can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke, gangrene, kidney failure, etc. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The article was originally published Tuesday on MedicineNet.