Diabetes linked to low-income groups

According to a recent Canadian study, new diabetes diagnoses are shown to be directly related to income--or lack thereof.

Researchers at the University of Toronto used a diabetes registry and census data to compare the rates of new diabetes cases in people older than 20 during a one-year period, based strictly on income brackets.

"There was a 20 percent higher risk of diabetes in the lowest two income groups compared with the highest group, which translated into an extra 2500 diagnoses of diabetes for that year," said Lorraine Lipscombe, MD, senior author of the study.

Lipscombe notes that while diabetes rates are growing fast across all groups, those in the lower income brackets are "experiencing the greatest burden."

Understanding risk factors

Previous studies on the subject have already linked a higher prevalence of diabetes to lower-income groups, but it has been unclear whether diabetes risk is inherent in this population or if it has more to do with lower-income individuals having less access to health screenings.

Lipscombe, however, says that the disparities in her study can't be explained by lack of screenings, so the results are "more a reflection of true risk."

The risk for diabetes was seen to be higher in older age groups, with the income gap and its effect on diabetes risk affecting women the most. In older men, however, income seemed to have little effect on diabetes risk.

Prevention

And while the study didn't look at causes of diabetes, Lipscombe says that basic lifestyle factors all come into focus.

"Higher rates of obesity, poorer diets, a more sedentary lifestyle, affordability of and accessibility to healthy food options and opportunities for physical exercise, as well as health literacy, may all play a role," she said.

More prevention efforts geared toward younger, low-income groups may help to ease the burden, the researchers concluded.

The study is published online in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.

Source: Medscape

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