Loneliness is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes

26/10/20 . News

New research shows there is a link between feeling lonely and developing type 2 diabetes.

The paper, published in the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, looked at data on over 4000 adults over 50 over a period a fifteen years. Feeling lonely was a strong predictor of who would develop diabetes during the study. 

Loneliness was defined as 'a negative emotion that occurs when an individual perceives that their social needs are not being met. It reflects an imbalance between desired and actual social relationships.' Simply, living alone or being socially isolated were not factors, it was the subjective feeling of loneliness that was linked to diabetes.

Lead researcher Dr Ruth Hackett of King's College London came up with the idea for the research during the Covid-19 lockdown. 'I became increasingly aware and interested in how loneliness may affect our health,' she told Science Daily. 'If the feeling of loneliness becomes chronic, then everyday you're stimulating the stress system and over time that leads to wear and tear on your body and those negative changes in stress-related biology may be linked to type 2 diabetes development.'

According to Science Daily, a fifth of UK adults report feeling lonely sometimes. Whether men or women feel more lonely is unclear - research has pointed in both directions. But we do know that diabetes is increasing amongst men and that the current pandemic is causing an increase in loneliness. Clearly, beating diabetes is another good reason for men to keep connected. 

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In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

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