In a diabetes detection survey carried out between 1962 and 1965, 2477 (1.1%) of 228,883 subjects had Clinistix-positive glucosuria after a carbohydrate-rich luncheon meal. Of these 2477, 578 displayed impaired tolerance to oral glucose without having manifest diabetes. From this group, 267 men were divided into five groups and subjected to the following treatments and controls: (a) diet regulation and 0.5 g tolbutamide t.i.d. (N = 49), annual oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT); (b) diet regulation and one placebo tablet t.i.d. (N = 48), annual OGTT; (c) diet regulation only (N = 50), annual OGTT; (d) no treatment (N = 61), annual OGTT; and (e) no treatment, OGTT at follow-up (N = 59 at follow-up). In addition, a control group was included comprised of men with normal OGTT (N = 52). At follow-up, 29% of those without diet regulation and medication (group e; N = 59) had developed diabetes. Of those on diet regulation, but without active medication (group b plus group c, N = 98), 13% had diabetes. No individual maintaining tolbutamide and diet regulation (N = 23) had progressed to diabetes. In this group, 80% of those later examined (N = 11) had serum tolbutamide concentrations in the therapeutic range. No individual with initially normal OGTT developed diabetes or impaired OGTT.
The findings suggest that normal oral glucose tolerance signifies little risk of progress to impaired glucose tolerance and manifest diabetes, whereas impaired glucose tolerance is associated with a high risk of progression to diabetes. In addition, it seems possible that treatment with diet regulation, in combination with tolbutamide, may prevent or postpone progression from impaired glucose tolerance to manifest diabetes.