The current worldwide prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) was estimated to be 2.8% in 2000, but it is predicted to increase to epidemic proportions in the coming decades, primarily due to lifestyle changes, particularly obesity. In the United Kingdom there are over 1.4 million men and women with T2D. In addition to a strong environmental element, the existence of an underlying genetic component to T2D risk is supported by twin studies, family studies and the widely different T2D prevalence across ethnic groups. Here we review data showing that several common genetic risk variants for T2D have now been successfully identified, with modest, but meta-analytical robust effects on risk (in the region of 1.1–1.5-fold risk per allele). Use of these in combination may have clinical utility in identifying subjects at high risk. Whether this information will be motivating to make the type of lifestyle changes that have been shown to reduce the rate of progression from the pre-diabetes state to overt T2D is discussed.
Clin Chem Lab Med 2007;45:301–8.