Workplaces could play crucial role in diabetes prevention programs

Friday, 4 October 2019

People in certain occupations have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those in other jobs, a nationwide Swedish study suggests.

Drivers, factory workers, and cleaners are three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than teachers and physiotherapists.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied how the occurrence of diabetes differs between occupations in Sweden. They monitored 4.6 million Swedes of working age between 2006 and 2015, of which 202,000 were living with type 2 diabetes.

The purpose of the research was to identify occupations with especially high risks of type 2 diabetes and factors which contribute to the increased risk. In about 60 per cent of cases type 2 diabetes can be prevented through lifestyle changes, and in order to reap the biggest health gains, the groups most at risk need to be identified.

“This is the first register study of its kind, where examinations were carried out regarding how the risk of type 2 diabetes differs between occupations based on data from an entire population,” said Dr Sofia Carlsson.

The results show that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, for women as well as men, differs significantly between occupations.

However, the researchers believe that there may be factors other than the occupations themselves that affect the risk of developing type 2; rather it seems to depend on certain occupations having a generally less healthy lifestyle.

According to the researchers, it is especially important that employers in these fields focus on measures such as preventive healthcare, exercise, and weight loss.

Information about diabetes was obtained from the national prescription and healthcare registers. The researchers also had access to certain information on lifestyle factors. Information regarding the men included in the study was obtained from the Military Enrolment Records, and information regarding the women with children was obtained from the Medical Birth Register.

“Interestingly, we can see that men who later work in professions with a high risk of diabetes are more likely to be overweight and have lower physical fitness during their military enrolment, ie, at an age when they are starting their working lives”, said Dr Carlsson.

“Among women, we can see that persons in high-risk professions have a higher than average occurrence of obesity and smoking at the time of their first pregnancy.

“Obviously, work-related factors such as sedentary work, irregular working hours, and stress can play a part as well.”

The Study.

Keywords: type 2

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