When we think about preventing Type II diabetes we typically consider diet and exercise to lose weight. While these things are important, a new study shines the light on the importance of maintaining a strong social network in order to reduce our odds as well.

In this study, social isolation was associated with increased odds of developing Type II diabetes for both men and women. Social isolation was defined as size of a person's social network, total contacts over 6 months, percentage of daily/weekly contacts, proximity to social contacts, social participation, living with others vs living alone, and informational, emotional, and practical support.

Living Alone

Living alone did not increase the odds for women developing the disease, but for men there was a 59% higher odds of developing prediabetes and an 84% higher odds of developing Type II diabetes. For men who already had Type II diabetes the association was 94% higher.

Lack of Social Participation

Both men and women were at greater odds for developing Type II diabetes, but for women it was far more significant. Lack of social participation for women conferred a whopping 112% higher odds of already having the disease and for men it showed a 42% higher odds.

What to Do About It?

Although this study does not show causation, the strong association between those who did develop the disease vs those who did not makes us pay greater attention to the need for increasing our social networks and contacts and those we care about.

Joining clubs or a book group, joining a church or synagogue, participating in team sports, and attending classes or having lunch at a senior center are all ways to increase our social network.

For more information, read the study.

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