CLEANERS, factory workers and drivers are “more likely to get type 2 diabetes”, experts are warning.
People with these jobs are up to three times more likely to get the illness than teachers, physiotherapists and dentists.
Scientists have blamed their unhealthy lifestyle choices – such as lack of exercise and smoking.
The revelation comes following a study by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, published in Diabetologia, which examined 4,550,892 people in 30 of the most common jobs.
Researchers followed up the incidence of diabetes at age 35 or over in participants from 2006 to 2015.
They found that 4.2 per cent of the working population had the condition but the rate in men ranged from 8.8 per cent in motor vehicle drivers to 2.5 per cent in computer scientists.
Unhealthy lifestyle habits
The range for women was from 6.4 per cent in manufacturing to 1.2 per cent among specialist managers.
Factory workers had up to 80 per cent more risk of developing diabetes than the general working population.
Age standardised incidence of diabetes was 5.19 per cent overall (6.36 per cent in men and 4.03 per cent in women) but again considerable occupational differences were noted.
Separate analysis of the over 55s revealed that, in men, diabetes prevalence was 14.9 per cent in manufacturing workers, 14.2 per cent in motor vehicle drivers and 13.1 per cent in office clerks.
In women over 55 years, the highest prevalence was seen in manufacturing workers 10.7 per cent, kitchen assistants 8.7 per cent and cleaners 8.3 per cent.
Lack of exercise
Despite this, male university teachers and female physiotherapists and dentists had a 45 per cent reduced risk.
The researchers said: “To reduce the future diabetes burden it is crucial to curb the inflow of new patients.
“If a job title can be used as a risk indicator of type 2 diabetes, it can be used to identify groups for targeted interventions, and hopefully inspire employers to implement prevention programmes tailored to their workforces.”
The experts also looked into lifestyle habits and found a clear link between diabetes and obesity and lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise or being a smoker.
The prevalence of being overweight at age 18 was found to be high in men who subsequently went on to work as mobile plant operators at 16.8 per cent, motor vehicle drivers at 16.3 per cent, and manufacturing workers at 14.1 per cent.
Whereas in future college and university teachers, only 6.5 per cent were overweight at age 18 with similar inverse patterns for physical fitness.
In women, 29-30 per cent of cleaners, manufacturing workers and kitchen assistants were overweight during their first pregnancy, and 24-30 per cent were smokers.
In writers, creative/ performing artists, physiotherapists and dental hygienists the corresponding estimates were 18 per cent for being overweight and 6 per cent for smoking.
Jobs that have the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes
Motor-vehicle drivers – 8.77%
Manufacturing labourers – 7.75%
Agricultural and other mobile plant operators – 7.21%
Personal carers – 7.12%
Office clerks – 7.14%
Manufacturing labourers – 6.42%
Cleaners – 5.09%
Kitchen assistants – 5.45%
Cooks, waitresses and housekeepers – 4.06%
Personal carers – 4.31%
The authors said: “The association between occupation and T2DM coincided with vast differences in prevalence of lifestyle factors – individuals in high risk occupations were more likely to be overweight, smoke and have lower physical fitness than those in low risk occupations, and this most likely contributes to a high prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes.”
Dr Katarina Kos, a senior lecturer in diabetes and obesity at the University of Exeter, said: “This study shows that certain working environments require an increasing focus in introducing lifestyle change.
“Increasingly we learn that sedentary jobs with little flexibility to take intermittent breaks are unhealthy in the longer term.”
Emma Elvin, a senior clinical adviser at Diabetes UK, added: “The important point to make clear here is that this study does not suggest that doing manufacturing, driving or cleaning jobs directly increase your risk.”
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease – accounting for between 85 and 95 per cent of all cases, according to Diabetes UK.
It develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin.
It can also be triggered when the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly.
Typically, people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes from the age of 40, but there are some exceptions.
In people from southern Asia the disease can appear as early as 25.
And the condition is becoming more prevalent in children and teenagers of all ethnicities.
Experts suggest the rising rates of type 2 diabetes is due to the obesity epidemic – a key cause of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be treated with drugs, and many people can reverse their condition by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
More on diabetes
On November 22, 2018, it was revealed that there are nearly 7,000 children and young adults under the age of 25 with type 2 diabetes in England and Wales.
That’s almost ten times higher than the previously reported number, according to Diabetes UK.
The Obesity Health Alliance said it was “hugely concerning” to see so many young people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
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