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27 - 28 June 2024
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Jamie Hailstone

The study by researchers in Canada and published in the journal BMJ Diabetes Research and Care found women who worked 45 hours or more a week had a “significantly higher risk” of developing diabetes than women who worked between 35 and 40 hours a week.

Researchers looked at the relationship between working long hours and developing diabetes among more than 7,000 workers in Ontario over a 12-year period. The report found that while working long hours did not increase the risk developing diabetes among men, promoting a regularly working week of between 35 and 40 hours for woman would help prevent diabetes among women.

It also claimed employed women “stiffer time constraints than men” and while men working long hours often hold high-skilled and well-paid occupations, women working such hours are often in low-paid jobs.

The research comes as the charity Diabetes UK publishes details of a new survey, which show only 2% of people knew diabetes could lead to a shorter life span and 4% knew it could lead to death.

According to the charity, people with diabetes are 32% more likely to die prematurely than people who do not have the condition and around 12.3 million people in the UK are at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Additional figures from Public Health England show there were more than 8,000 leg, toe or foot amputations a year on average between 2014 and 2017 as a result of diabetes.

Commenting on the Canadian study, Diabetes UK’s Head of Care, Dan Howarth, said: “This large, long-term observational study adds to the body of evidence which shows that working long hours can have a negative impact on our health. In this case, the study showed that women who worked longer hours were at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, even after other risk factors were taken into consideration.

“However, the reality of our working lives is extremely complex and more research is needed for us to truly understand the role that working hours may have on our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Legal restrictions on working hours, as well as the lack of distinction made between paid and unpaid work, may have affected how the women spoke about the number of hours worked.

“While we may not have the full-picture from this study, it is already established that keeping active, maintaining a healthy diet and watching your weight will be the biggest step any one person can take to living a long and healthy life.

“Women working long hours to put food on the table can – by also thinking about what’s in the food they’re putting on that table – make a significant, positive difference to their risk of Type 2 diabetes.”

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