The Diabetes Risk Score

A practical tool to predict type 2 diabetes risk

  1. Jaana Lindström, MSC1 and
  2. Jaakko Tuomilehto, MD, PHD12
  1. 1Diabetes and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland


    OBJECTIVE—Interventions to prevent type 2 diabetes should be directed toward individuals at increased risk for the disease. To identify such individuals without laboratory tests, we developed the Diabetes Risk Score.

    RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—A random population sample of 35- to 64-year-old men and women with no antidiabetic drug treatment at baseline were followed for 10 years. New cases of drug-treated type 2 diabetes were ascertained from the National Drug Registry. Multivariate logistic regression model coefficients were used to assign each variable category a score. The Diabetes Risk Score was composed as the sum of these individual scores. The validity of the score was tested in an independent population survey performed in 1992 with prospective follow-up for 5 years.

    RESULTS—Age, BMI, waist circumference, history of antihypertensive drug treatment and high blood glucose, physical activity, and daily consumption of fruits, berries, or vegetables were selected as categorical variables. Complete baseline risk data were found in 4,435 subjects with 182 incident cases of diabetes. The Diabetes Risk Score value varied from 0 to 20. To predict drug-treated diabetes, the score value ≥9 had sensitivity of 0.78 and 0.81, specificity of 0.77 and 0.76, and positive predictive value of 0.13 and 0.05 in the 1987 and 1992 cohorts, respectively.

    CONCLUSIONS—The Diabetes Risk Score is a simple, fast, inexpensive, noninvasive, and reliable tool to identify individuals at high risk for type 2 diabetes.


    • Address correspondence and reprint requests to Jaana Lindström, National Public Health Institute, Mannerheimintie 166, 00300 Helsinki, Finland. E-mail: jaana.lindstrom{at}

      Received for publication 15 July 2002 and accepted in revised form 18 November 2002.

      A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

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