The warning signs of type-2 diabetes may be detectable 20 years before the disease is diagnosed, researchers say.
A Japanese study found that elevated fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance are seen in people years before they develop pre-diabetes, often a pre-cursor to type-2, BBC reports.
Iinterventions to stop the disease in its tracks should begin far earlier in life, authors suggest.
The research is being presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference and published in The Journal of Endocrine Society.
The Japanese study, carried out between 2005 and 2016, looked at the body mass indexes (BMIs), fasting blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity of 27,000 non-diabetics. Psrticipants were aged between 30 and 50 and were mostly men.
Researchers found these people had had increased fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, along with higher BMIs, up to 10 years before diagnosis.
Over the study period, 1,067 new type-2 diabetes cases were diagnosed.
The study followed participants until they were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, pre-diabetes - where blood sugar levels are abnormally high - or the end of 2016.
Most people who develop type-2 diabetes first go through a pre-diabetes stage. Researchers say it means the warning signs of the condition may be detectable more than 20 years before an actual diagnosis.
Because trials of prevention in people with pre-diabetes seem to be less successful over long-term follow-up, we may need to intervene much earlier than the pre-diabetes stage to prevent progression to full blown diabetes, dr Hiroyuki Sagesaka, from Aizawa Hospital in Matsumoto, Japan, who led the research,