In the book Epidemiology of Diabetes and Its Vascular Lesions (1978), Kelly West summarized extant knowledge of the distribution and causes of diabetes. The 30 years of epidemiological research that followed have seen remarkable advances in the understanding of obesity as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and diabetes and pre-diabetes as risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Increasingly detailed understanding of these relationships has, unfortunately, been accompanied by an alarming increase in the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. West recognized that pre-diabetes is recognizable as what we now call metabolic syndrome. He predicted that novel insight into diabetes pathogenesis would come from biochemical and genetic epidemiology studies. He predicted that type 2 diabetes could be prevented by healthy lifestyle change. The challenge now is for us to translate these insights into effective strategies for the prevention of the modern epidemic of diabetes and vascular disease
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