Job insecurity linked to increased risk of diabetes

by Leo Almazora07 Oct 2016
A report in the Globe and Mail cites a new study in the U.K. that found that people who were worried about losing their jobs had higher chances of developing diabetes.

Researchers compiled and analyzed data from 19 studies involving a total of 140,825 adults in the U.S., Australia and Europe, most of whom were employed and diabetes-free when they signed up to participate. At the start, participants were asked if they were afraid they would lose their jobs in the near future. The percentage of subjects who responded in the affirmative ranged from 6% to 40%, depending on the study.

The number of diabetes cases in the population was observed over ten years. During the follow-up observation period, the annual incidence of new cases ranged from about nine for every 10,000 participants to about 85 for every 10,000. After age and sex had been taken into account, researchers found a 19% higher rate of new cases of diabetes in the group of subjects who reported job insecurity – a rate that they called a “modest increased risk.”

Another paper – restricted to 15 studies with data on factors aside from age and sex that might affect one’s risk of diabetes – showed job insecurity to be linked with a 12% higher risk of being diagnosed with diabetes.

While the analysis has shown a correlation, the researchers couldn’t conclude that job insecurity causes diabetes. Nevertheless, lead author Jane Ferrie, of the University of Bristol and University College London, said that she’d ideally like the study to lead to “a reduction in job insecurity and an increase in secure job contracts and reasonable wages.”

The findings compliment other studies linking job insecurity with high BMI and heart disease. A high BMI puts one at risk of diabetes, which in turn leads to an increased risk of heart disease. The added risk for diabetes among job-insecure individuals may stem from associated unhealthy behavior such as overeating and other forms of overindulgence, as well as elevated stress hormones that promote weight gain.

Ferrie also cautioned that since the statistics applied to the population, it has limited scope for individual diagnoses. “This is not going to tell any individual about their risk,” she said, adding that there’s a need for “a population health approach and to reduce people’s exposure to job insecurity.”

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