Primary care physicians should screen all adults over age 45 for diabetes every three years, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Screening should be done earlier in adults with certain risk factors that include obesity, family history of diabetes, and high blood pressure.

"For the first time, the USPSTF is recognizing value in screening for prediabetes; consequently, millions more patients at risk could ultimately be identified and helped by diabetes prevention programs recognized by the CDC through its National Diabetes Prevention Program," said Robert M. Wah, MD, president of the American Medical Association. "In particular, we are pleased that the Task Force is now recommending the use of hemoglobin A1c testing as a primary method for screening at-risk individuals, since this test provides a rapid and accurate means of testing for both prediabetes and diabetes."

The task force’s previous recommendations from 2008 advised diabetes screening only for those with increased heart disease risk due to high blood pressure. “More evidence has emerged since then on the benefits of lifestyle interventions,” task force member Dr. Michael Pignone, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, told the Boston Globe. “Our feeling is that you need to have an effective intervention available for people that you screen.”