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Deprivation ‘negatively impacts’ type 1 diabetes health

By Editor
6th March 2019
Charity, Type 1 diabetes

Researchers are calling for ‘health inequalities’ to be stamped out after discovering those with type 1 diabetes who live in depraved areas have higher blood sugar levels. 

Speaking at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2019Professor Helen Colhoun of the University of Edinburgh, unveiled her team’s findings which suggested poorer living circumstances hugely impacted the health of those with type 1 diabetes.

The trial involved analysing the health records of more than 30,000 people in Scotland who have type 1 diabetes. They looked at trends over a 12 year period (2004 to 2016) and explored whether there were any differences in blood glucose levels between different ages, social groups and gender.

They found those with the condition living in the most deprived areas of Scotland had higher blood glucose levels than people from the least deprived areas (on average HbA1c w7.78mmol/mol higher in most deprived areas than least deprived areas).

Alongside this, social deprivation is strongly linked to higher levels of physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, smoking and poor blood pressure control, all of which can further increase the risk of developing the serious complications of type 1 diabetes.

Professor Colhoun said: “We found that people with type 1 diabetes living in more deprived areas of Scotland consistently had higher levels of blood glucose than those in less deprived areas. This underlines the need for policies to tackle these inequalities since they lead to higher rates of diabetes complications. 

Achieving safe blood glucose control is complex. In the future it will be important to assess whether recent policies widening the provision of insulin pumps and flash monitors for those with type 1 diabetes impact these inequalities.”

 The study was funded by Diabetes UK and Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research there, said: “We must make sure that appropriate, high quality care and information is available for everyone with Type 1 diabetes, whoever they are and wherever they live.

 This research gives us crucial insights into how, and some indicators as to why, blood glucose control varies across different people with Type 1 diabetes. This vital evidence helps to identify where support is most needed, so we can help everyone to live well with their type 1 diabetes.”

Picture credit: Jimmy Chang

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