Middle-aged men twice as likely to have diabetes as women

29 July 2009

Men aged 35-54 are almost twice as likely to have diabetes compared to their female counterparts, according to a new report from health charity Diabetes UK.

The report, Diabetes in the UK 2009: Key statistics on diabetes, reveals that 2.4% (around 92,960) of men in England aged 35-44 have diabetes compared to 1.2% (around 47,000) of women of the same age, and 6% (around 197,050) of men aged 45-54 have diabetes compared to 3.6% (around 120,670) of women their age¹.

Statistics also show that diabetes has risen four times faster in men aged 35-44 over the last 12 years compared to women of the same age², and that, consistently, more men are overweight than women³.

Approximately 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity levels. The condition can be genetic, but many people are overweight when they are diagnosed.

Simon O'Neill, Director of Care, Information and Advocacy at Diabetes UK, said: "It's very worrying that men of this age are developing diabetes at such an alarming rate compared to their female counterparts. Most of them will have Type 2 diabetes, which is strongly linked to lifestyle and can be prevented in many cases by eating a healthy balanced diet and doing regular physical activity.

"Women should not rest on their laurels, either. They may tend to develop the condition later in life, but the risk of death from heart disease associated with Type 2 diabetes is about 50% greater in women than it is in men¹ — not a statistic to be ignored.

"Diabetes UK is calling on everyone carrying extra weight to reduce their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by leading a healthier lifestyle. We must take action now to tackle Type 2 diabetes head-on."

Research shows that losing weight can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes in those at high risk by 58%4 and physical activity can reduce the risk by 64%5.

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being over 40 years old, or over 25 if you're Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority group; having a large waist; being of Black or South Asian origin and having a family history of the condition.

Type 2 diabetes can be undetected for 10 years or more and around half of people already have complications by the time they are diagnosed. At-risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, except those of South Asian origin who are at risk at 35 inches or more, and 31.5 inches or more for all women.

Diabetes is a serious condition. If not managed effectively it can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.

To find out if you are at risk of Type 2 diabetes and for more information on leading a healthier lifestyle visit www.diabetes.org.uk


1. Diabetes UK (2009). Diabetes in the UK 2009: Key statistics on diabetes (Page 5). www.diabetes.org.uk/Documents/Reports/

2. The Health and Social Care Information Centre, Lifestyles Statistics (2008). Health Survey for England 1994, 1998, 2003, 2006.
www.ic.nhs.uk/webfiles/publications/HSE07/ADULT%20TREND%20TABLES%202007.xls  (Table 13)

3. The Health and Social Care Information Centre, Lifestyles Statistics (2008). Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet: England, January 2008.
www.ic.nhs.uk/webfiles/publications/opan08/OPAD%20Jan%202008%20final%20v7%20with%20links%20and%20buttons%20-%20NS%20logo%20removed%2020112008.pdf  (Page 4)

4 Tuomilehto J. Lindstrom J. Eriksson JG. Valle TT. Hamalainen H. Ilanne-Parikka P. Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi S. Laakso M. Louheranta A. Rastas M. Salminen V. Uusitupa M. Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study Group. Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance.[see comment]. New England Journal of Medicine. 344(18):1343-50, 2001, May 3.

5. Lynch J. Helmrich SP. Lakka TA. Kaplan GA. Cohen RD. Salonen R. Salonen JT. Moderately intense physical activities and high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness reduce the risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in middle-aged men.[see comment]. Archives of Internal Medicine. 156(12):1307-14, 1996 Jun 24.

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