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Does Increase in Global Temperature Increase Diabetes Risk?

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  • A research team from Leiden University Medical Center has identified that an increase in global temperature affects risk for diabetes.
  • Every 1C rise in temperature increases diabetes incidence by 0.314/ 1,000 and glucose intolerance incidence by 0.17%.
  • A healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle should be followed to lower risk for diabetes.

There are many risk factors for diabetes which have been determined through various studies, including genetic influences and lifestyle factors; however, a research team from Leiden University Medical Center has found that rising temperatures across the world could contribute to the growing numbers of people with diabetes. The study that was published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care highlights another significant influence of global warming on health.


Does Increase in Global Temperature Increase Diabetes Risk?
Does Increase in Global Temperature Increase Diabetes Risk?

The incidence of diabetes continues to rise:
  • 415 million adults were diagnosed with diabetes in 2015
  • 642 million adults are expected to be diagnosed with diabetes in 2040
The brown fat stored in the human body functions to transfer energy from food into heat. Studies that were conducted earlier have shown that in cold temperatures, the brown adipose tissue (BAT) is stimulated, resulting in moderate loss in weight. Reduction in temperature also improved insulin sensitivity of the individual, with the individual being less likely to develop diabetes

Dr. Patrick Rensen and his team from the Leiden University Medical Center, studied the effect of increase in global temperature on the incidence of type 2 diabetes, associated with BAT activity and reduced glucose metabolism. The scientists wanted to determine the link between rise in outdoor temperature and incidence of diabetes and glucose intolerance, on a country wide as well as on a global scale.

Study data on Diabetes Incidence, Fasting Blood Glucose, Obesity and Average Annual Temperature
  • Data that was available via the National Diabetes Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was utilized. Adults from across 50 states in the USA, between the years 1996 to 2009 were scrutinized for diabetes incidence.
  • A country-wise prevalence data system that included fasting blood glucose and obesity spread across 190 countries was available from the Global Health Observatory online data repository system of the World Health Organization.
  • The scientists used information available with the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK to obtain the average annual temperature of each country.

Association between Global Rise in Temperature and Diabetes

  • For every 1C rise in temperature, the incidence of diabetes increases by 0.314 per 1,000.
  • Incidence of glucose intolerance increased by 0.17% for every 1C rise in temperature.
  • The association between temperature rise and diabetes incidence was not impacted by obesity.
This study and its findings show a marked association between the rise in global temperature and the incidence of diabetes along with increase in the incidence of glucose intolerance. These findings show that
  • Every 1C rise in outdoor temperature could result in 100,000 new diabetes cases every year in a country like USA with a population of 322 million.
Country level association study was also carried out by the research team which found that inter country differences, like sex, age, income and obesity, did not affect the incidence levels determined globally.


This is a condition in which there are high levels of blood glucose. Glucose is derived from the food consumed and the hormone insulin plays a critical role in maintaining glucose levels in the body.
  • Type 1 diabetes occurs because the body does not make sufficient insulin to break down glucose.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common type and occurs when the body is unable to utilize the insulin that is produced.
  • In pre-diabetes, blood sugar is higher than normal levels but is not elevated enough to be called diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at an increased risk for diabetes.
  • Pregnant women with improper insulin utilization could be affected with gestational diabetes.
People with diabetes should keep their glucose levels under check as increased exposure to glucose in the blood can lead to serious health issues like
  • Damage to the eyes
  • Kidney damage
  • Damage to the nerves
  • Increase risk for heart disease and stroke.
The current study that has highlighted the increase risk for diabetes will compound the already rising numbers of diabetics across the world. Without proper care, diabetes can lead to many complications and can pose a serious health hazard. While arresting rise in global temperatures is necessary, there should be an increased awareness about the risk that diabetes poses. Additional care and precautionary measures should be taken to limit the risk, and to lead a disease free life.

References :
  1. Diabetes - (https://medlineplus.gov/diabetes.html)
Source: Medindia

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