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Editor's Note
December 2016

The Medicalization of Common Conditions

JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(12):1863. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.6210

When JAMA Internal Medicine launched the Less Is More series 6 years ago, we commented that one area of concern was “medicalization” of common conditions.1 In this issue, Shahraz et al2 elegantly demonstrate how common conditions can be “medicalized.” Using NHANES data they find that a widely promoted web-based risk test would label more than 73 million Americans, including more than 80% of those older than 60 years, as being at high risk for “prediabetes,” a condition never heard of 10 years ago.2 We suggest a better approach to preventing the epidemic of obesity and its multiple health-related complications is emphasis on healthful diet, weight loss when appropriate, and increased physical activity at all levels—by schools, the medical profession, and public health and governmental agencies.

Grady  D, Redberg  RF.  Less is more: how less health care can result in better health.  Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(9):749-750. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.90PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Shahraz  S, Pittas  AG, Kent  DM.  Prediabetes risk in adult Americans according to a risk test  [published online October 3, 2016].  JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5919Google Scholar
1 Comment for this article
\"At risk\" of being \"at risk\"
Anne Peticolas | Senior Systems Analyst, University of Texas System
It seems rather droll that first \"prediabetes\" gets defined with a view of determining who is \"at risk\" of diabetes; and now we go back another level and decide we should figure out who is \"at risk\" of prediabetes. Yes, a textbook example of over-medicalisation.