Men Are More Prone to Diabetes than Women Says New Study

Men are more likely to develop the disease diabetes than women, and their risk is increased by less weight gain than their womenfolk, says new research done in Scotland.  Men developed type 2 diabetes at an average of two BMI points below women.

The research may help to explain why diabetes rates are higher in men than in women in many countries of the world.

The findings were published by the study team of scientists from the Scottish Diabetes Research Network at the university at Glasgow, the city chosen as the venue for the 2012 Diabetes UK Professional Conference.  It is also one of the diabetic hotspots of the UK, with 6.6% of its population diabetic, compared to the overall UK figure of 4.4%.  National Health Service statistics show the city is a diabetes “time bomb” with one in 12 of the population likely to be diabetic by 2030.  Glasgow is notorious as the birthplace of such gastronomic delights as the deep-fried Mars Bar, and Scottish cuisine generally is often seen as very unhealthy.  Historically Scottish homemakers used a griddle or girdle, a metal plate, which was lightly greased with lard or butter before being used to grill food.  With modern cookers replacing traditional stoves or cooking over an open fire, the girdle has been replaced universally with the frying pan which, being deeper than the flat plate, uses more fat for cooking.

A fatty diet is one of the triggers of type 2 diabetes, the most important one being obesity, or having a Body Mass Index, or BMI, over 30.  The BMI, a classification method for healthy and unhealthy weights, classifies a BMI of up to 25 as normal, between 25 and 30 as overweight, over 30 as obese, and over 40 as super obese.  Around 228,000 people in Scotland as a whole are diabetic, a figure that has more than doubled in the last eight years from around 100,000.

The study team examined data relating to 52,000 men and 43,000 women, and found the average BMI within a year of diagnosis was 31.83 for men and 33.68 for the women, a difference of almost two BMI points.  As the male patients were developing diabetes at a lower BMI than the women, the men were clearly more prone to the disease, explained Professor Naveed Sattar, who led the study.

Obesity is the most important risk factor for diabetes; others include poor diet, inadequate exercise, genetic factors and age.  Medical scientists believe a fatty diet somehow flips a genetic switch that can start diabetes, but that crash dieting can reverse this.

“Previous research has indicated middle-aged men are at a higher risk of developing diabetes than women and one possible explanation is men have to gain less weight than women to develop the condition. In other words, men appear to be at higher risk for diabetes,” he said.

Diabetes UK has reacted to the report, which was published in the journal Diabetologia, with concern.  Their head of research Dr Victoria King said the study would be helpful with continuing research into what causes diabetes.  She said Diabetes UK is calling on all UK residents to slash their diabetes risks by eating healthily, exercising every day and keeping their weight down.

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