Predicting adult-onset diabetes

Photo of a fat mouse

Fat cells may hold the key to predicting type 2 diabetes, a major cause of kidney failure, limb amputations, blindness, heart disease and stroke.

The disease, also called adult-onset diabetes, affects 8 percent of the U.S. population age 20 or older. While more than 80 percent of diabetics are overweight, only 10 percent of obese individuals develop the disease. Knowing your risk is a key to prevention.

Knowing what to expect: "Currently, we have no markers to tell who among these overweight individuals is going to become diabetic," says Alan Attie, a College biochemist who studies diabetes. A major study in 2001 showed that people at risk for diabetes can delay the onset of the disease with moderate changes in diet and exercise, according to Attie.