Type 2 Diabetes – Social Support Has Been Found Helpful In Preventing Diabetes

Social support helps to prevent many illnesses, and according to the journal Diabetic Medicine, published in January 2016, Type 2 diabetes is one of them. Scientists at the German Research Center for Environmental Health and several other research facilities in Germany, compared participants with good and poor social support over a period of 25 years. They found those with poor social support were more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

A total of 8952 participants aged 30 to 74 years old were tested with the Social Network Index, a questionnaire on social contacts. By the end of the study, 904 of the participants had developed Type 2 diabetes. Participants with poor social support were 31 percent more likely to develop the condition than those with good support…

  • among the men with ideal social support, 69 percent developed Type 2 diabetes, compared with 94 percent with poor social support.
  • 43 percent of women with good social support developed the condition, versus 58 percent of women with poor support.

The relationships were seen regardless of other risk factors. The relationship has been particularly high in men with low levels of education…

  • men with a low standard of education had a 50 percent increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than men with tertiary education levels.

The University of California in San Francisco, United States, defines social support as “the various types of support (i.e., assistance/help) that people receive from others and is classified into two (sometimes three) main categories…

  • emotional,
  • instrumental, and sometimes
  • informational support.”

1. Emotional support is given when we listen to a friend’s problems with empathy or when we give a reassuring hug.

2. Instrumental support might be providing a cup of soup or a meal, or driving a friend to the doctor.

3. Informational support might be giving someone the URL to a helpful website.

Some people are born into a large family with what seems to be never ending support. Some rely on their spouse. People from dysfunctional families or who have obvious medical problems can have a more difficult task to establish a social network. It is best to begin gradually…

  • greeting the neighbors on your daily walk,
  • bringing cookies around at holiday time and even
  • chatting about the weather with people you meet

is a good start.

The more people you talk to, the more chances you have of finding someone with whom you have something in common. If establishing a social network is particularly challenging, consulting a specialist can help develop insight into the problem. Even for people without many risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, being with friends makes life easier and happier.