Men and women who are not active socially and remain isolated may be at an increased risk of developing diabetes than individuals with larger social networks, a study has found.
The findings showed that a lack of social participation was associated with 60 per cent higher odds of pre-diabetes and 112 per cent higher odds of Type 2 diabetes in women compared to those with normal glucose metabolism.
Men who lack social participation in clubs and groups had a 42 per cent higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, while those living alone had 94 per cent higher risk.
“The study is the first to determine the association of a broad range of social network characteristics — such as social support, network size or type of relationships — with different stages of Type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Stephanie Brinkhues, from the Maastricht University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands.
“As men living alone seem to be at a higher risk for the development of type 2 diabetes, they should become recognised as a high risk group in health care. Social network size and participation in social activities may eventually be used as indicators of diabetes risk,” added co-author Miranda Schram, from the varsity.
For the study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, the team involved 2,861 men and women aged 40 to 75 years. Early changes in glucose metabolism may cause non-specific complaints such as tiredness and feeling unwell, which may explain why individuals limit their social participation.
Promoting social integration and participation may be a promising target in prevention strategies for type 2 diabetes, the researchers suggested.
“Our findings support the idea that resolving social isolation may help prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes,” Brinkhues added.