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09-08-2010 | Diabetes | Article

Type 2 diabetes prevalence linked to socio-economic inequality in women


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MedWire News: The increasing prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in England over recent years is linked to greater socio-economic inequality in women, but not men, report UK researchers.

Type 2 diabetes affects all socio-economic groups, but has been observed to be more common in lower socio-economic groups.

Anne Imkampe and Martin Gulliford from King's College London explained: "We specifically aimed to determine whether socio-economic inequalities in diagnosed diabetes are reducing or increasing over time."

The researchers analyzed data from the Health Survey for England collected in 1994, 1998, 2003, and 2006. Overall, 41,643 individuals aged 35 years or above were included in the study. The prevalence of self-reported, doctor-diagnosed diabetes in relation to household income, educational level, and occupational social class was assessed.

As reported in the European Journal of Public Health, the team found that the prevalence of diabetes in men and women in 1994 was 3.74% and 2.28%, respectively. By 2006, these values had increased to a corresponding 7.25% and 4.88%.

The authors found evidence for an association with socio-economic status in women, but not men, in 2006.

Women from the lowest social class, defined according to the Registrar General's Classification, were 4.54 times more likely to have diabetes compared with women in the top social class in 2006. Similarly, women with little or no education (below GCSE level) had a 96% increase in relative risk compared with those who had achieved A-levels or above.

In addition, the Slope Index of Inequality for social class and level of education in women increased between 1994 and 2006, from -1.65 to -4.95 and from -1.39 to -6.48, respectively.

"There are several possible explanations for this finding," say Imkampe and Gulliford. "Diabetes incidence could have increased disproportionately among lower socio-economic groups. Case ascertainment may have improved particularly in lower socio-economic classes."

They add: "The finding may also be related to an increasingly ageing population with women living longer than men and the higher risk of poverty with older age, or to known inequalities in diabetes morbidity and mortality, improving treatment options for patients with diabetes and therefore potentially longer survival of people with diabetes in lower socio-economic classes."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert