People who are overweight or obese should start screening for diabetes at age 35 — or five years earlier than the current recommendations — a panel of experts said Tuesday.

The recommendation comes from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine who work to use their expertise to “make recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services or preventive medication.”

In a draft document uploaded to its website recently, the task force recommended “screening for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes in adults ages 35 to 70 years who are overweight or obese.”

The recommendation does not apply to pregnant women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention people are considered overweight when they have a BMI higher than 25, and obese when their BMI is 30 or higher.

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BMI, or body mass index, is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.

One of the biggest risk factors for prediabetes and diabetes — the seventh leading cause of death in the country — is being overweight or obese, experts said.

Diabetes, a metabolic disease that affects how the body uses blood sugar, is the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 64.

It can also lead to a number of health problems, including heart disease, stroke and limb amputation.

The CDC 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report estimated that 13% of all U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, have diabetes, and 34.5% meet criteria for prediabetes. Among people who have diabetes, 21.4% of them weren’t aware of the illness.

“Screening and earlier detection can help prevent prediabetes and diabetes from getting worse and leading to other health problems,” task force member Dr. Michael Barry, said in a statement.

“The task force found there are effective ways to help people who have prediabetes lower their risk of diabetes and improve their overall health,” added Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng, who’s also part of the panel.

“Clinicians and patients should discuss these benefits and choose the approach that works best for each individual,” she added.

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The recommendations made by the committee are independent of the U.S. government, and should not be seen as an official position of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The draft document is available for public comments until April 12.

If the guidelines become final, most private insurers would have to offer diabetes screenings free of charge, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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