J Epidemiol Community Health 68:51-56 doi:10.1136/jech-2013-202885
  • Research report

Biomarkers of diabetes risk in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme (2008–2011)

Open Access
  1. A M Stephen1
  1. 1MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany
  3. 3National Centre for Social Research, London, UK
  4. 4University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to S Almoosawi, Human Nutrition Research Centre and Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; suzana.almoosawi{at}
  • Received 21 May 2013
  • Revised 2 July 2013
  • Accepted 21 July 2013
  • Published Online First 19 September 2013


This study describes the distribution of glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and glucose concentrations in the combined year 1 (2008–2009), year 2 (2009–2010) and year 3 (2010–2011) of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) rolling programme. The NDNS rolling programme is a nationally representative survey of food consumption, nutrient intakes and nutritional status of people aged 1.5 years and over living in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The study population comprised survey members who completed three or four days of dietary recording and who provided a blood sample. After excluding survey members with self-reported diabetes (n=25), there were 1016 results for HbA1c and 942 for glucose (not the same individuals in each case). Around 5.4% of men and 1.7% of women aged 19–64 years, and 5.1% of men and 5.9% of women aged ≥65 years had impaired fasting glucose (glucose concentrations 6.1–6.9 mmol/L). Over 20% of men aged ≥65 years had fasting glucose concentrations above the clinical cut-off for diabetes (≥7 mmol/L) compared to 2.1% of women of similar age (p=0.007). Similarly, 16.4% of men had HbA1c concentrations ≥6.5%, compared to 1.5% of women (p=0.003). Children and teenagers had fasting glucose and HbA1c values largely within the normal range. To conclude, this is the first study to provide data on the distribution of HbA1c and glucose concentrations in a nationally representative sample of the British population. The high prevalence of men aged ≥65 years with HbA1c and glucose concentrations above the clinical cut-off of diabetes warrants further attention.

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