Diabetes diagnoses have been on the rise for some time now. Currently, almost 30 million adult Americans suffer from diabetes; that means one in 10 Americans has been diagnosed, and among the elderly, that number rises to roughly one in four. What’s more, about 8 million Americans are predicted to suffer from the disease without a diagnosis, meaning they are experiencing the symptoms of diabetes but not receiving vital treatment for it. These numbers are only likely to increase as time goes on.
Generally, researchers have found that the prevalence of excessively sugary foods combined with Americans’ general apathy toward exercise is the cause of this drastic increase in adult-onset diabetes cases. However, as we learn more about the disease, new trends regarding diabetes are starting to appear. For example, men are slightly more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than women, but women have about a 10 percent chance of developing diabetes during pregnancy. Additionally, children whose parents suffer from the disease have a 75 percent higher risk of developing diabetes themselves.
A new review of diabetes statistics has revealed that workers who put in long hours on the job are at a significantly higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes (among other disorders like depression and sleep disruption) than their more relaxed peers. While you stock up on your insulin and syringes to treat diabetes, read more about why your work could be to blame for your current condition.
Details on the Study
The analysis of the data was performed by Dr. Mika Kivimaki, professor of epidemiology at University College London. By meticulously searching through the wealth of previously published studies, Dr. Kivimaki and his team were able to locate more than a thousand published works with usable data on overtime effects and diabetes risk factors. After adjusting for known diabetes risk factors (like age, sex, and weight) the researchers were able to determine results.
Essentially, the research team found that among workers of lower socio-economic status, the link between extra work and diabetes was obvious. If a blue collar person works more than 55 hours per week, that person has a 30 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than a person with the same job who works a standard 35 to 40-hour work week. Oddly enough, this was not the cause for workers in higher socio-economic classes. So, why is the link so clear among lower-class employees?
Reasons for the Link
Working long hours puts a person at risk for myriad health complications. Extended periods sitting puts strain on the bones and muscles and decreases blood flow, leading to atrophy and clots. Plus, hard workers tend to become stressed and have less time to relax, putting them at risk for stroke or heart attack as well as a variety of mental disorders. Most crucially, people who spend more time working have less opportunity to exercise, and they are more likely to grab a quick, cheap, unhealthy bite from a nearby restaurant than prepare their own healthy meals.
For low socio-economic status workers, the strain of working long hours is even more intense because their low rate of pay does not make up for their loss of opportunity for self-care. Generally, poorer classes increase their work hours to take in more income for a reason — perhaps to afford daycare or pay bills; this means the excess income they receive is not helping them in leisure activities or allowing them to better their lifestyle. Thus, blue collar workers must succumb to poor health habits when they put in extra time on the job. Conversely, higher socio-economic workers work harder to demonstrate devotion to a position or simply because they enjoy the work, and thus they are not as hampered by the health hazards of extra time at work.
How to Avoid the Diagnosis
If you fall within the groups at risk for developing diabetes due to long hours at work, know that the results of this study aren’t a death sentence — or even a definite diagnosis. There are plenty of ways low socio-economic workers can avoid developing diabetes due to their jobs.
The simplest solution is to avoid working such long hours every week. Standard working hours were established by U.S. legislation because of the severely diminished productivity and health risks incurred by regularly working more; employers are legally obligated to pay employees extra for overtime, but too often employees suffer far more than they are being compensated. Of course, if you can’t afford to decrease your working time, there are other courses of action.
While it is easier to grab a snack from the vending machine or pick up lunch from the neighboring fast food place, these meal options aren’t helping lower your chance of diabetes. Instead, pack your own breakfasts, lunches, and dinners from fresh, homemade ingredients. You’ll know exactly what you put into your oatmeal or pasta salad, so you have more control over your diet. Additionally, try to get up and walk at least five minutes every hour, and don’t forget to exercise more vigorously on your off-time. You can easily incorporate this into your regular activities: Run around with your kids, or bike to and from work; there are plenty of options.
While diabetes is currently more prevalent in hard workers, you can work to disprove that statistic with smart choices. And if you currently suffer from diabetes and continue to rack up hours at your workplace, have a conversation with your boss about measures you can take toward leading a healthier lifestyle.