Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels rise due to insufficient secretion or inactivity of hormones and insulin that lower blood sugar levels. It causes complications such as distal neuropathy and blurred vision. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is known to increase with lifestyle or genetic factors, but loneliness also appears to increase the risk.
The research team analyzed data used in a joint study with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the Norwegian Regional Health Agency. This data includes the health information of more than 230,000 people from the census carried out four times between 1984 and 2019.
Of these, 1,179 of the 24,024 selected from the second survey data were judged to be type 2 diabetics, with HbA1c greater than 48 mmol/mol, which shows the rate at which hemoglobin binds to sugar in cells red blood According to the research team, among those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the proportion of men was 59%, the average age was 48 years, and the marital rate was 73%. In the census, 13% of all participants said they complained of loneliness.
The researchers say there is a strong link between higher levels of loneliness and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes 20 years later. Participants who answered that they felt strongly when asked if they felt lonely were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who said they did not feel lonely.
Although a causal link between loneliness and the development of type 2 diabetes has not been established, the research team suggests that engagement and social influence could have a positive effect on health. For example, getting advice or support from friends can have a positive effect on eating, being physically active, and relieving stress. However, fewer social contacts do not have this positive effect, and as a result, the researchers speculate that lonely people may be at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The research team say it is important for healthcare workers to communicate openly about patient concerns, including those about loneliness and social interaction, during clinical consultations, and that clinical guidelines for type 2 diabetes should include going to tackle loneliness. Relevant information can be found here.