New grip strength metrics offer a simple, time-efficient screening tool for type 2 diabetes, according to researchers from Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.

Muscular weakness is known to be associated with type 2 diabetes. Investigators have identified handgrip strength levels that correlate with the disease in at-risk but otherwise healthy men and women. These age- and sex-specific grip strength cut points correspond to body weight, and can be used as diabetes risk indicators, said lead author Elise C. Brown, Ph.D.

Early-stage type 2 diabetes is asymptomatic, and a prompt diagnosis can prevent or delay complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy. Undiagnosed prediabetes and diabetes can also lead to cardiovascular-related morbidity and mortality and economic burden. In 2017, costs relating to care were $43.4 and $31.7 billion respectively, highlighting the need for better early detection efforts, Brown and colleagues reported.

“Given the low cost, minimal training requirement and quickness of the assessment,” the normalized grip strength cut points could be used in routine health screenings to identify at-risk patients and improve diagnosis and outcomes, Brown concluded.

Full findings were published in the American Journal for Preventive Medicine.