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Men twice as likely not to know they have diabetes

New research suggests men over 50 are nearly twice as likely to have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes than their female counterparts, warns Diabetes UK today.

Published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, a nationally representative study of 6,739 52- to 79-year-olds found 502 to have diabetes. Of the men with diabetes, 22 per cent did not realise they had the condition before the study, compared to 12 per cent of the women.


“Diabetes is extremely serious and the longer it is left undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the risk of developing devastating complications such as blindness, stroke, kidney failure, amputation and heart disease," said Simon O’Neill, Head of Care, Information and Advocacy at Diabetes UK.

Around half already have complications by time of diagnosis

"Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for more than 10 years, which means that around half of people already have complications by the time they are diagnosed.

Men at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes than women...

“Men are generally worse at looking after their health than women. We already know that middle-aged men are twice as likely to have diabetes than women and that, consistently, more men are overweight than women and so at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. This research suggests this pattern is the same for men over 50 who don’t realise they have diabetes.

“It’s vital men of all ages take better care of their health and are made more aware of the risk factors and symptoms of diabetes. Older men, especially if they are at risk of diabetes, should have regular check-ups with their GP.

... but women should not become complacent

“Women should not become complacent, though. They may tend to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life but the risk of death from heart disease associated with the condition is about 50 per cent greater in women than it is in men.”

Other factors linked to diabetes risk

The study also found people had a greater risk of having undiagnosed diabetes if they had a high Body Mass Index (BMI), a large waist, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Wealth, education, social class, ethnicity, age, and smoking status were not shown to significantly increase the risk.

'Putting Prevention First'

Diabetes UK welcomes the Government’s NHS Health Checks programme as part of their recent commitment to ‘Putting Prevention First’.

The programme aims to assess and manage vascular risk in England and identify people at risk of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes UK wants similar screening programmes to be established across the UK.

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