A Danish population of 5699 individuals (60–74 yr old) was screened by fasting blood glucose (FBG) and interviewed about known diabetes. The distribution of FBG in individuals not known to have diabetes showed no sex difference or significant variation with age. Fasting hyperglycemia (FH), defined as FBG ≥ 7 mM in subjects without a history of diabetes, was found in 1.7% of men and women. Known diabetes (KD) had a prevalence of 3.9 and 5.0% in men and women, respectively. The prevalence rates of FH and KD increased significantly with age. In the two subgroups, plasma C-peptide was measured after overnight fasting and subsequently 6 min after an intravenous injection of glucagon. Based on the distribution of the C-peptide concentrations in non-insulin-treated KD subjects, lower limits for non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) of 0.30 pmol/ml for fasting C-peptide and 0.60 pmol/ml for stimulated C-peptide were arbitrarily chosen. According to these cutoff points, only 38.5% of KD subjects treated with insulin had insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, corresponding to 9.3% of all KD subjects. After exclusion of these patients, the prevalence of recognized NIDDM was 3.5% in men and 4.5% in women. All FH subjects except one had C-peptide values in the NIDDM interval. A close agreement between fasting and glucagon-stimulated C-peptide was seen. In epidemiological studies with an expected high prevalence of NIDDM, we propose to use fasting C-peptide for classification of patients with insulin-treated diabetes.

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