Men more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes than women in the UK

by Barbara Hewitt on November 22, 2017

Men in Britain are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women due to obesity with cases more than doubling in the last 20 years, a new study shows.

Men are 26% more likely to have the condition and more likely to suffer complications such as amputation and eye disease and to die prematurely, according to the research from charity Men’s Health Forum.


The study report, One In Ten: The Male Diabetes Crisis, points out that figures from Public Health England estimates that 9.6% of men have type 1 or type 2 diabetes compared to 7.6% of women which means that one man in 10 now has diabetes.

It also shows that men are more likely to be overweight and to develop diabetes at a lower BMI than women. However, they are less likely to be aware that they are overweight or to participate in weight management programmes.

Men are more likely to suffer from diabetic retinopathy, foot ulcers and to have a foot amputation. Some 69.6% of those presenting with a foot ulcers are men. Men are more than twice as likely to have a major amputation. Studies also show that the incidence of diabetic retinopathy is significantly higher amongst men.

Men are more likely to die, and to die prematurely, as a result of diabetes. The age standardised mortality rate for men with an underlying cause of death as diabetes is 40% higher than it is for women.

The report highlights how the sex inequalities around diabetes have not been highlighted by health policy makers and practitioners and calls for better engagement of men for health checks, eye tests, weight management programmes and diabetes education programmes.

It also calls for more research to understand areas that are poorly understood, such as the higher rate of amputations amongst men, and argues that the National Diabetes Prevention Programme must be designed and delivered in ways that work for men.

‘Men are more likely to get diabetes. More likely to suffer complications. More likely to face amputation as a result of diabetes and more likely to die from diabetes. Diabetes is hitting men especially hard, but too little is being done to understand the problem and tackle the problem,’ said Martin Tod, chief executive of the Men’s Health Forum.

‘The Men’s Health Forum wants to see a serious programme of research and investment to ensure men get the support and care they need to prevent and manage diabetes. The toxic combination of ever more men being overweight, men getting diabetes at a lower BMI and health services that don’t work well enough for working age men is leading to a crisis. We need urgent action,’ he added.

According to Peter Baker, Men’s Health Forum associate and the report author, while diabetes has been described as a national health emergency, the burden of the disease on men has not been fully recognised or responded to by health policymakers and practitioners.

‘What’s now urgently needed is an approach that takes full account of sex and gender differences so that both men and women’s outcomes can be improved,’ he said.

However, professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS England’s national clinical director for obesity and diabetes, believes a change is taking place. ‘Across the majority of England people at high risk can now get help on the NHS’s diabetes prevention programme, which is seeing almost as many men attend as women, a much higher proportion than usually seen in weight loss programmes,’ he said.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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