Does Your Job Cause Diabetes?

The Impact of Stress

In an extensive German study that collected data from more than 5,300 employees aged 29-66, scientists found that the women who were under a high level of work pressure had a 45% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. About 20% of people are affected by high levels of mental stress at work. These are people who have very high demands put on them, but who have very little decision making power. The increased risk was independent of classic risk factors including obesity, age, or gender.

The Impact of Shift Work

Shift work is also strongly correlated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is highest among men and those individuals who work rotating shift patterns. Previous studies have found that working night shift is associated with digestive disorders, certain cancers, and heart disease. In one study, researchers found that the risk increased 37% for men after looking at the potential impact of gender, study design, study location, job, shift schedule, BMI, family history, and level of physical activity. An internal body clock regulates levels of testosterone, so it is likely that repeated disruption can cause insulin resistance and diabetes. Most shift patterns, except mixed and evening shifts, increased the risk of diabetes when compared to the risk among people working regular office hours. Rotating shifts were associated with a 42% higher risk. A lack of quality sleep, an increase in weight gain, or an increased appetite may be to blame. Shift work can also disturb cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

The Impact of Sedentary Time

When researchers gave 2,000 people accelerometers for one week and then followed up five years later, those people who had been inactive for at least ten hours a day had almost a four-fold higher chance of having diabetes compared to individuals who had been sedentary for less than six hours a day.

Among 168 participants with an average age of 53.4 years recruited from the 2004-2005 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study, more interruptions in sedentary time were associated with better measures of adiposity, triglycerides, and two-hour plasma glucose. These findings were independent of total sedentary time, moderate-to-vigorous intensity time, and mean intensity of the breaks. Even standing, rather than sitting, has been shown to result in substantial increases in total daily energy expenditure and resistance to fat gain.

The Impact of Frequently Eating Out

When scientists tracked the diets of 58,000 women, and 41,000 men for 36 years, they found that the more a person ate out, the more deficient their diet was overall. The higher rates of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes among those who ate out the most frequently were striking. Those who ate an average of 11-14 homemade meals (lunches and dinners) a week, had a 13% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who ate fewer homemade meals.